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Grizzly bears, black bears, wolves, coyotes, cougars/ mountain lions,bobcats, wolverines, lynx, foxes, fishers and martens are the suite of carnivores that originally inhabited North America after the Pleistocene extinctions. This site invites research, commentary, point/counterpoint on that suite of native animals (predator and prey) that inhabited The Americas circa 1500-at the initial point of European exploration and subsequent colonization. Landscape ecology, journal accounts of explorers and frontiersmen, genetic evaluations of museum animals, peer reviewed 20th and 21st century research on various aspects of our "Wild America" as well as subjective commentary from expert and layman alike. All of the above being revealed and discussed with the underlying goal of one day seeing our Continent rewilded.....Where big enough swaths of open space exist with connective corridors to other large forest, meadow, mountain, valley, prairie, desert and chaparral wildlands.....Thereby enabling all of our historic fauna, including man, to live in a sustainable and healthy environment. - Blogger Rick

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Saturday, April 22, 2017

Vernal Pools are "temporary wetlands found in woodlands which are present in early Spring and gradually dry out as the months move into Summer................"Think of these "pools" as 'protein factories' that provide food and nutrients for wildlife and trees"........."Perfect these 'bodies of water' are for salamanders, wood frogs and fairy shrimp--all finding refuge from predators"............."These shallow pools warm up quickly in the spring sunshine through hardwoods without leaves"............ "Warm water grows copious amounts of algae, which are eaten by macroinvertebrate grazers, which are then eaten by birds, frogs, salamanders, snakes, and on up the food chain"

Vernal Pools: Nature's Original Protein Shakes

By Jon Binhamme; The Nature Conservancy

Life Springs from Vernal Pools

Image result for VERNAL POOLS
Vernal Pool 490x250

Life Springs from Vernal Pools

A neighbor once asked me, “I’ve got this wicked big pond in the middle of my woodlot that’s there in the spring, but disappears come summer – what do you think I should do with it?” My answer surprised him: “Cherish it.”
His disappearing pond is in fact a protein factory for his woods--a temporary wetland that supports a whole host of life forms that provide food and nutrients for wildlife and trees. What he has is a vernal pool: a temporary springtime pool of water that dries up, or mostly dries up, by summer. And the sheer act of drying up makes this a beautiful habitat for salamanders, wood frogs, and fairy shrimp protected from aquatic predators like fish which cannot live in these temporary ponds. Without fish, the tadpoles and larva of these species can thrive to produce the next generation of young, many of which will be eaten by hungry owls, foxes, mink, weasels, and many other animals, passing their nutrient-rich feces to the forest floor, which feeds the trees.
Vernal pools are the protein shakes of Vermont’s upland forests. These shallow pools warm up quickly in the spring sunshine through hardwoods without leaves. Warm water grows copious amounts of algae, which are eaten by macroinvertebrate grazers, which are then eaten by birds, frogs, salamanders, snakes, and on up the food chain.
By summer, all the life that was in the vernal pool is gone – salamanders and wood frog tadpoles have grown legs and gone in search of grubs and insects for food, and old mouse burrows or rotten logs for shelter. Generally, most don’t stray too far from their natal vernal pool. Biologist Steve Faccio of Vermont Center for Ecostudies found that most stay within 600 feet of their home pool or “life zone” and suggested that care be taken when using this area for various activities.

A type of vernal pool in a prairie biome

Landowners and forest managers should protect these life zones by leaving them undisturbed as much as possible. Forest roads and skid trails should remain outside the zone to avoid compacted soils that compromise tunnels for overwintering salamanders and extra snags and rotten logs should be left within the zone to provide critical amphibian habitat. The forest canopy should also be left intact to maintain moisture both in the pool and in the life zone.
While not rare, vernal pools are only found in areas of relatively flat terrain, usually on a ridge, so in mountainous Vermont, they are unusual. A vernal pool is an uncommon gift to a landowner willing to understand and appreciate the life within it. If you have a vernal pool on your land, enjoy the sound of the wood frogs and spring peepers, and cherish it for what it is and what it delivers: protein for all the wildlife in your woods.


Fact Sheet
Vernal Pools: A Significant Wildlife Habitat

Reivsed: April, 2009       contact: Nearest DEP Office
Picture of a vernal pool.

What is a vernal pool?

Vernal pools or "spring pools" are shallow depressions that usually contain water for only part of the year. They are often associated with forested wetlands.

Why are vernal pools important?

The vernal pools serve as essential breeding habitat for certain species of wildlife, including salamanders and frogs (amphibians). J uvenile and adult amphibians associated with vernal pools provide an important food source for small carnivores as well as large game species.
In Maine, species that must have access to vernal pools in order to survive and reproduce include wood frogs, spotted and blue-spotted salamanders (two types of mole salamanders) and fairy shrimp. Avoiding impacts to significant vernal pools and their surrounding habitat is important because many amphibian species are pool specific: they must return to the pond in which they were born to breed.
The loss of vernal pools and the critical terrestrial habitat around them leads to local loss of amphibian species, a decrease in biodiversity, and a decline in food available for many other animals that live in these areas. In Maine , vernal pools with high value for wildlife are called significant vernal pools .

Are all vernal pools considered significant?

Not all vernal pool habitats are considered "significant". In general, a vernal pool habitat is significant if it has a high habitat value, either because (1) a state-listed threatened or endangered species, such as a spotted turtle, or a rare species, such as a ribbon snake, uses it to complete a critical part of its life history, or (2) there is a notable abundance of specific wildlife, such as blue spotted salamander, wood frog, or fairy shrimp.

I have a vernal pool on my property. How do I know if it is "significant"?

The specific criteria describing a significant vernal pool are listed in DEP Rules, Chapter 335, and allow these resources to be identified in the field. Using these criteria,
  • A person who has experience and training in either wetland ecology or wildlife ecology may identify and document a significant vernal pool; or
  • The DEP may provide a written determination concerning whether or not a vernal pool habitat is significant.

Are significant vernal pools protected?

"Significant vernal pool habitat" includes the vernal pool itself and the area within a 250 foot radius of the spring or fall high water mark of the pool, which is considered critical terrestrial habitat.
Starting September 1, 2007, significant vernal pool habitat is protected by law under the Natural Resources Protection Act (NRPA). An activity in, on, or over these areas must avoid unreasonable impacts on the significant vernal pool habitat and obtain approval from the DEP, through a Permit by Rule or individual NRPA approval.

What happens if I have a significant vernal pool on my property and need a permit for my project?

A permit by rule will be available if certain standards are met, and can be approved within 14 days. The standards do not create a mandatory setback or no-build zone, but do affect what can be done, so it is advisable to plan ahead. For more information on the NRPA, a copy of the rules addressing significant vernal pools, application forms, and related materials, see the NRPA page.

What are the standards I have to meet to get a Permit by Rule?

  • No disturbance within the vernal pool depression.
  • Maintain a minimum of 75% of the critical terrestrial habitat as unfragmented forest with at least a partly-closed canopy of overstory trees to provide shade, deep litter and woody debris.
  • Maintain or restore forest corridors connecting wetlands and significant vernal pools.
  • Minimize forest floor disturbance.
  • Maintain native understory vegetation and downed woody debris.
If the Permit by Rule standards cannot be met, the applicant may apply for an individual NRPA permit.

Does it help if I want to restore some of the land that was previously developed?

If more than 25% of the critical terrestrial habitat has been previously developed, restoring a portion of the developed area through supplemental planting or regrowth of native forest plants and trees may be considered toward meeting these standards. "Developed area" includes disturbed areas, excluding areas that are returned to a condition with the same drainage patterns and the same or improved cover type that existed prior to the disturbance.

I have questions, need hard copies of materials, or would like to request a field determination.

Contact your nearest DEP regional office, and ask to speak to the "on-call" person in the Land & Water Bureau, Division of Land Resource Regulation.
  • Central ME Regional Office 17 State House Station, Augusta , ME 04333-0017 ; Phone: 207-287-3901 (bureau) or 1-800-452-1942 (department).
  • Eastern ME Regional Office 106 Hogan Road , Bangor , ME 0440; Phone: 207-941-4570 or 1-888-769-1137.
  • Northern ME Regional Office 1235 Central Drive, Skyway Park; Presque Isle, ME 04769; Phone: 207-764-0477 or 1-888-769-1053.
  • Southern ME Regional Office, 312 Canco Road , Portland , ME 04103 ; Phone: 207-822-6300 or 1-888-769-1036.

Friday, April 21, 2017

The most inbred two Wolves in North America are the last of the once vibrant 24 that called Isle Royale, Michigan home in 2009...............The longest running Wolf/Moose study(59 years) ever conducted in North America will come to an end(as the remaining Wolves are ages 7 and 9-an extremely long life would be 12 years)unless the National Park Service decides to go with one of their four "DRAFT Environmental Impact Statement courses of action---"Their preferred course entails a time-limited introduction of new wolves--up to 20 to 30 wolves selected to maximize both genetic diversity and restore predation to the ecosystem"................ "NPS estimates that the process to introduce the number of wolves identified in the plan would take between three to five years".......................... "Public review of the document concluded in mid-March, and the NPS is reviewing all comments"................. "A final decision is expected in the fall"....................Meanwhile, the Moose population on the island has expanded to1600--a six year average rate of growth since 2011 of 22%,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,Concurrently, the Beaver population has tripled from 100 to 300 over the same 6 year time span.................Trees and undergrowth on the island are going to diminish rapidly without the top-down trophic presence of the Wolf................Researchers feel certain that our fossil fuel burning has caused warmer Michigan Winters..........As a result, freezing ice has not been pervasive on Lake Superior which in turn has prevented Wolves from mainland Michigan from emigrating over to Royale.........Therefore, most scientists come out in favor of re-stocking Wolves on Royale rather than letting our "recently manipulated weather" cause a die out of the Wolf population


Two in the pack: No changes for Isle Royale wolves

The remaining two Wolves on Royale living
out their days at age 7 and 9 respectively

For the second year in a row, the Isle Royale wolf population remains a mere two. Researchers from Michigan Tech say that as the wolf population stays stagnant, the moose population will continue to grow at a rapid pace. And this could have a significant impact on the island's famed forests.
According to Rolf Peterson, a research professor at Michigan Tech and co-author of the report, the Isle Royale wolves are no longer serving their ecological function as the island's apex predator--the creature at the top of the food chain. With only two wolves left on the island, the moose population has grown to an estimated 1,600.

Without wolf predation, says John Vucetich, a professor of ecology at Michigan Tech and report co-author, the moose population could double over the next three to four years. And more moose means more vegetation is eaten. The observations were reported in this year's Winter Study, which marks the 59th year of monitoring wolves and moose on Isle Royale, the longest running predator-prey study in the world.

Wolf Genetics

Where have all the island wolves gone? The answer lies in genetics. The population crash on Isle Royale is the result of inbreeding--the remaining wolves are not only father and daughter, they are also half siblings who share the same mother.

Researchers believe the two have probably mated at least once in the past: in 2015, an approximately nine-month-old pup was spotted with the two adults. That pup, however, did not appear healthy. Researchers noted a visibly deformed tail, small stature and possibly abnormal posture. Peterson and Vucetich were not surprised when the pup failed to appear with the adults in 2016.

The remaining wolves are not expected to successfully reproduce in the future, either. Both animals are approaching old age--the female is seven years old and the male is nine--and no one can predict how much longer either wolf will live. Further complicating matters, the female wolf has been observed aggressively rejecting the male as a mate.

But even if the pair were to produce a healthy pup, it would likely have little impact on the Isle Royale ecosystem. In the case of these wolves, extreme inbreeding makes the population's natural recovery unlikely. The wolves' numbers started plummeting in 2009, declining by 88 percent from 24 to 2 wolves. Vucetich and Peterson believe this is a result of inbreeding, and all geneticists who have studied the situation agree that recovery is unlikely without new genetic material.

At the end of 2016, the National Park Service published a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) to determine how best to manage the wolves on Isle Royale. The DEIS discussed four potential courses of action. According to the document, NPS would prefer a time-limited introduction of new wolves--up to 20 to 30 wolves selected to maximize both genetic diversity and restore predation to the ecosystem. NPS estimates that the process to introduce the number of wolves identified in the plan would take between three to five years. Public review of the document concluded in mid-March, and the NPS is reviewing all comments. A final decision is expected in the fall.

More Moose 

The 2017 moose census puts the Isle Royale herd at approximately 1,600 members. According to the report, the multiyear trend shows the moose population has been growing at a six-year average rate of 21.6 percent. Peterson and Vucetich credit this rapid growth to several factors: high reproduction rates, low rates of mortality due to wolf predation, mild winters and an abundance of forage.

But this abundance of forage may not last. According to recent findings, under the island's current conditions, the moose population could double over the next three to four years. If this happens, the number of Isle Royale moose would reach an unprecedented high for the project's six-decade history. And this could result in high levels of browsing on the island's vegetation.

"Everything we're seeing on Isle Royale is consistent with our past understanding of the ecosystem's dynamics," says Vucetich. "We have every reason to expect the moose population will continue to grow and increasingly impact the forest."

Moose aren't the only Isle Royale residents experiencing a population boom with a dwindling number of wolves. The report notes that the number of beaver colonies has increased dramatically over the past six years, from approximately 100 to nearly 300.

"Wolves are the only significant predator of beaver on Isle Royale," says Peterson. "Beaver were nearly extinct across North America 200 years ago. At Isle Royale, they're now at unprecedented levels."

With wolves no longer serving their predatory function, Isle Royale's ecosystem could soon look dramatically different.

Some great pictures and videos of Pumas, Bobcats and Ocelots captured by the National Geographic BIG CATS INITIATIVE---for your Friday enjoyment below

Big Cats on Camera

Big cats are magnificent, powerful creatures, with incredible stealth and hunting prowess. Their populations are in decline worldwide, caused by habitat loss and conflict with humans. The more we know about these magnificent, powerful animals, the better served the conservation community will be to protect them. (Learn how to help them through National Geographic’s Big Cats Initiative.)
Volunteer crews with my organization, Adventure Scientists, have captured mountain lions, ocelots and bobcats on camera traps, and found sign of lynx and snow leopard. We’ve used this information to help our research partners learn more about the wild places they study, from Costa Rica to Utah.
Mountain LionSolitary animals, mountain lions live mostly in remote places and are rarely spotted by humans. Weighing in at 85-180 pounds and stretching 7-8 feet long, they hunt by ambush and kill with a powerful bite at the base of the skull, according to the Colorado Division of Wildlife. A typical male’s territory is 100-plus square miles, while females range less than 50. The crew caught this mountain lion on a camera trap while working on the American Prairie Reserve in northern Montana in the summer of 2015:

Another crew captured this lion (above) on camera in the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest of northeastern Utah:
mountain lion
Watch Puma video

BobcatNamed for its short bobbed tail, the bobcat is the most populous wildcat in North America, with 725,000-1,020,000 in the wild. At 10-28 pounds and up to 23 inches tall, they’re slightly smaller than lynx, their much less common relative. Early 20th century trapping nearly wiped out bobcats in the eastern and midwestern United States, where they’ve since recovered. We recorded this one in the Uintas:

view bobcat video

A team of ASC adventurers in Costa Rica caught this ocelot on a camera trap they set up at Reserva Playa Tortuga this summer. Nocturnal creatures, ocelots weigh up to 40 pounds and can live as long as 20 years. Also known as “painted leopards,” they climb and run with agility, and are good swimmers. The fur trade nearly drove ocelots to extinction, but today they have rebounded; even so, they’re threatened by habitat destruction, poaching and vehicle collisions

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

The Eastern fisher is making an excellent comeback across all of New England, NY, West Virginia, New Jersey,Western Maryland and Pennsylvania...........A common forest carnivore across the eastern states at the time of colonization, Pennsylvania killed off their last member of the Weasel family in 1923............A re-introduction program by the PA. Wildlife folks from 1994-98 saw 190 New Hampshire Fishers carted over to the northern counties of Pennslvania..............Combined with natural Fisher expansion into the Penn woodlands from nearby NY and West Virginia and it is now estimated some 2-5000 Fishers live and breed in Pennsylvania with 57 of the state's 67 counties acknowledging the presence of this outstanding tree-climbing hunter..................... In 2008, The Pennsylvania Bureau of Wildlife reported on evidence of intraspecific predation taking place in the Fisher population--Fishers killing other Fishers,.............. "Specifically, this type strife has been noted among adult males and litter-mates".......................And recently published research from Indiana University of Pennsylvania researchers found "the presence of Fisher remains in 12% of the 91 carcasses of the Fishers they examined in the central Appalachian section of Pennsylvania from 2002-14"...............Is this similar to the intraspecific strife that is found among Puma populations where adult males look to kill off the cubs of a female so that they can father another litter, passing on their own genes instead of another males?..................Or is it a way of adult Fishers keeping a particular territory to themselves rather than competing with their offspring once they mature and leave the natal den?

The American Midland Naturalist 177(2):200-210. 2017
Diets of Fishers (Pekania pennanti)

and Evidence of Intraspecific

Consumption in Pennsylvania
No Access
Image result for Fishers hunting squirrels in trees


The fisher (Pekania pennanti) is a forest-dwelling mesocarnivore native to northern North America. The species had been extirpated from many southern parts of its historic range, but several states have implemented fisher re-introduction programs over the past 40 y.  While many studies have previously examined fisher diet, most occurred in northern and western portions of the species' range where mixed and coniferous forests are the dominate cover types. We examined fisher diet, in a re-introduced population in the central Appalachian Mountains where deciduous forests were the dominate cover type. We collected 91 fisher carcasses from 2002–2014 and examined their stomach contents. We detected mammalian and avian prey in 82.6% and 10.9% of stomachs, respectively. Fishers we sampled consumed a variety of plant materials (n = 11) and prey items (n = 30 spp.). Diet composition of males and females overlapped considerably (O = 0.87).

Our most noteworthy and novel finding was the presence of fisher remains in 11 (12%) stomachs. We suggest here that rapid population growth of Pennsylvania fishers may have resulted in aggressive behaviors underlying our observations of interspecific consumption. Future research that examines the cause for intraspecific consumption in this central Appalachian fisher population would be a worthy endeavor.

Author Affiliations

1 Corresponding author present address: Cornell University, Natural Resources, 111E Fernow Hall, 226 Mann Dr., Ithaca, New York 14853: e-mail: 
2 Present address: Northwest Mississippi Community College, 4975 Highway 51 North, Senatobia, Mississippi 38668-1701
Darin J. McNeil, JR.1
Department of Biology, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Weyandt Hall, Room 114, 975 Oakland Avenue, Indiana 15701
Courtney A. Nicks
Department of Biology, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Weyandt Hall, Room 114, 975 Oakland Avenue, Indiana 15701
Jennifer C. Wester2
Department of Biology, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Weyandt Hall, Room 114, 975 Oakland Avenue, Indiana 15701
Jeffery L. Larkin
Department of Biology, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Weyandt Hall, Room 114, 975 Oakland Avenue, Indiana 15701
Mathew J. Lovallo
Pennsylvania Game Commission, 2001 Elmerton Avenue, Harrisburg 17110



The fisher (Martes pennanti) is a mid-sized terrestrial and arboreal carnivore and is the
second largest mustelid currently found in Pennsylvania’s forest ecosystems. Historic
accounts suggest that, prior to colonial development, fisher were once found throughout
forested regions in Pennsylvania. Subsequent wide-scale deforestation and dramatic
alterations in forest structure and prey resources resulted in fisher population declines.
Due to limited accounts of fisher during the last century, it is difficult to estimate the
exact timing or progression of fisher extirpation in PA, but the last confirmed report,
prior to the recent population recovery, was in Mifflin Co. in 1923.

Fisher populations are currently established and are expanding throughout much of
southwestern, central, and northern Pennsylvania. This “present day” fisher population is
the direct result of a large-scale reintroduction program within Pennsylvania and natural
expansion from reintroduced populations in West Virginia and New York. The
conservation and management of Pennsylvania's fisher population is of interest to
hunters, trappers, and non-consumptive users alike. The development of a comprehensive
fisher conservation and management plan is necessitated and prioritized by growing
public interest and concerns about fisher population expansion in Pennsylvania. The
foundation of Pennsylvania’s fisher management approach lies in this plan’s mission

“Promote stability and continued expansion of fisher populations within suitable habitats
throughout the Commonwealth and minimize human conflicts and impacts on other
wildlife populations”.

The fisher management plan provides a comprehensive and current summary of fisher
biology, historic and current status in Pennsylvania, population recovery, economic
significance, public interest, and regional population and harvest management
approaches. The plan also provides supporting objectives and strategies to achieve five
species-specific goals related to population monitoring, habitat assessment, population
enhancement, and development and implementation of a harvest management program.
To assist with implementation planning, an appendix is included which provides target
dates for specific project objectives. Successful implementation of this plan will require
further acquisition and reallocation of resources within the agency and from outside
sources. The feasibility of implementing a fisher harvest season is addressed using a
conceptual fisher management model and a wildlife management unit-based decision
matrix. The decision matrix is designed to provide guidance for harvest management
decisions such as the timing, areas, and methodologies associated with a fisher harvest

Due to the fishers’ size, strength, and arboreal abilities, they are rarely preyed upon by
other forest carnivores, but predation has been reported by mountain lion, coyote,
wolverine, golden eagle, wolves, and lynx (Krohn et al. 1994, Douglas and Strickland
1987, Roy 1991). Intraspecific strife has been noted among adult males and litter-mates
and intraspecific mortality has been documented in captive populations.

Due to the fishers’ size, strength, and arboreal abilities, they are rarely preyed upon by
other forest carnivores, but predation has been reported by mountain lion, coyote,
wolverine, golden eagle, wolves, and lynx (Krohn et al. 1994, Douglas and Strickland
1987, Roy 1991). Intraspecific strife has been noted among adult males and litter-mates
and intraspecific mortality has been documented in captive populations.

Regulated trapping is a significant source of mortality within many fisher populations.
Fishers are relatively easy to capture and males are generally more susceptible to harvest
than are females due to increased mobility and larger home ranges. It is unknown
whether human-related harvest mortality is compensatory or additive (Douglas and
Strickland 1987).

Habitat Selection

In the most general sense, fisher occupy mesic, confer or mixed conifer forest with
abundant physical structure (i.e., downed woody debris) on the forest floor. Lancaster et
al. (2008) found that fisher abundance was positively related to the proportion of
landscapes containing forest cover. Fisher are generally believed to avoid areas lacking
overhead cover but degree to which fisher will tolerate varying levels of forest
fragmentation has not been well studied. Significant structure on or near the forest floor
is most important during winter periods as it may provide subnivian spaces in which to
forage and rest (Buskirk and Ruggerio 1994).

Although late successional forest appears to be a significant requirement in some western
populations, this does not seem to be the case in the eastern U.S., where fisher occupy
deciduous forest stands at varying successional stages. Varying silvicultural practices,
combined with extensive gypsy moth-related or other pathogen-caused forest mortality,
 may provide adequate structure on or near the forest floor to support eastern fisher

Most studies of habitat selection have been conducted to evaluate stand use and microsite
selection. These studies have generally concluded that fisher prefer mid–to-late
succession conifer stands, but will inhabit partial or entirely deciduous stands as well
(Powell et al. 2003). Powell (1994 for resting sites than foraging areas. Conversely, Weir and Harestad (1997) found no apparent landscape-level trends in habitat selection. Seasonal patterns of habitat selection
are not well documented but selection is thought to be less apparent during summer than
during winter (Kelly 1977). Fisher avoid habitats associated with deep soft snow during
winter because of their relatively heavy foot loadings (Krohn et al. 1995). In general,
fisher select the most structurally complex forest stands available, particularly at or near
the forest floor.

Just like with our Pumas and Wolves of today, Saber Toothed Cats and Dire Wolves of the Pleistocene(10,000 plus years ago) worked hard for a meal...................Kicked to death was a real possibility everytime these carnivores set out to hunt their prey

The dangers of being a saber-toothed cat in Los Angeles 12,000 years ago

Studying the animals' bones, biologists found injuries to shoulders and backs after likely attacks on large prey

Their Southern California contemporary, the dire wolf, was more likely to suffer from injuries to the head, neck, ankles and wrists, the researchers report.
"The difference in neck injuries between the two animals is dramatic," said lead author Caitlin Brown, a UCLA doctoral student in ecology and evolutionary biology. "The dire wolves had many neck injuries clustered together that could have resulted from the wolves being dragged by thrashing prey, as we see in modern wolves. In contrast, the saber-toothed cat has almost no neck or head injury, which implies that they were avoiding damage to their precious teeth."
Brown and another UCLA doctoral student in ecology and evolutionary biology, Mairin Balisi, analyzed more than 35,000 bones from saber-toothed cats and dire wolves over six months at the La Brea Tar Pits' George C. Page Museum. The researchers found injuries on 4.3 percent of all saber-toothed cat bones and 2.8 percent of all dire wolf bones.
Image result for saber toothed cats and dire wolves

Like modern gray wolves, dire wolves -- which "are not made-up beasts for 'Game of Thrones,'" Brown said -- were predators that caught and killed prey with their jaws. By contrast, saber-toothed cats (Smilodon fatalis), a species without close modern descendants, are thought to have ambushed large prey using powerful back and forelimb muscles to pull down and position the animals for killing bites. Saber-toothed cats were heavier than dire wolves, and are believed to have used their large forelimbs to pin down their prey.
"Consequently, we expected injuries in saber-toothed cats would likely be concentrated in the shoulder, anterior ribcage and spine, while those of dire wolves were likely to be more evenly distributed across all four limbs," said senior author Blaire Van Valkenburgh, a UCLA professor of ecology and evolutionary biology. "In addition, head injuries were likely to be more common in the dire wolves because they were at risk of being kicked while biting the hind¬quarters during a chase. Caitlin and Mairin's analyses supported these conclusions."
While previous studies of these animals have demonstrated that injuries likely occurred during fierce battles, the UCLA biologists are the first scientists to study enough bones to determine how frequently the injuries occurred.
The finding that saber-toothed cats sustained more frequent injuries than dire wolves suggests that the cats faced a much greater risk of injury over their lifetimes. It is thought that this is because the cats killed relatively larger prey and may have done so alone, rather than as part of a group. Instead of exhaust¬ing their prey through a long pursuit, the cats ambushed prey at a short distance and immobilized them using their massive forelimbs before killing the prey with precisely positioned bites, the researchers said.
"Dire wolves hunted in packs, which were essentially a running set of jaws," Van Valkenburgh said. "They had to do everything with their mouths. So we expected to see injuries where they were kicked in the head, and maybe injuries in the limbs, either by being kicked or by tripping during a hunt."
Saber-toothed cats are not tigers, Balisi noted, and are only distantly related to modern cats.
The biologists studied only trauma, injuries that likely resulted from hunting. This trauma included fractures that had healed, severe or chronic muscle strain, and osteoarthritis.

Story Source:
Materials provided by University of California - Los Angeles. Original written by Stuart Wolpert. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

Journal Reference:
  1. Caitlin Brown, Mairin Balisi, Christopher A. Shaw, Blaire Van Valkenburgh. Skeletal trauma reflects hunting behaviour in extinct sabre-tooth cats and dire wolvesNature Ecology & Evolution, 2017; 1: 0131 DOI: 10.1038/s41559-017-0131

April 17, 2017
University of California - Los Angeles

Monday, April 17, 2017

Who would have thought that the northern Sugar Maple tree and it's sap would be found to be an elixir that will help breathe new life into our less and less effective arsenal of antibiotics......................"The last word in ignorance is the man who says of an animal or plant, "What good is it?",,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, "If the land mechanism as a whole is good, then every part is good, whether we understand(or like) it or not".,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,"If the biota, in the course of aeons, has built something we like but do not understand, then who but a fool would discard seemingly useless parts?",,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, "To keep every cog and wheel is the first precaution of intelligent tinkering"--------Aldo Leopold(our great 20th century naturalist from his Round River writings)

No more 'superbugs'? Maple syrup extract enhances antibiotic action

Antibiotics save lives every day, but there is a downside to their ubiquity. High doses can kill healthy cells along with infection-causing bacteria, while also spurring the creation of "superbugs" that no longer respond to known antibiotics. Now, researchers may have found a natural way to cut down on antibiotic use without sacrificing health: a maple syrup extract that dramatically increases the potency of these medicines

The researchers will present their work today at the 253rd National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS).

"Native populations in Canada have long used maple syrup to fight infections," says Nathalie Tufenkji, Ph.D. "I've always been interested in the science behind these folk medicines."
The idea for the project really gelled when Tufenkji, who had been studying the antimicrobial effects of cranberry extracts, learned of the anti-cancer properties of a phenolic maple syrup extract. "That gave me the idea to check its antimicrobial activity," Tufenkji says. "So, I sent my postdoc to the store to buy some syrup."
Using the same extraction approach as other researchers have in the past, Tufenkji's team at McGill University separated the sugar and water from the syrup's phenolic compounds, which contribute to maple syrup's signature golden hue.

In an initial test, the team exposed several disease-causing bacterial strains to the extract, but they didn't see much of an effect. Rather than give up on maple syrup altogether, Tufenkji decided to check whether the extract could enhance the antimicrobial potency of the commonly used antibiotics ciprofloxacin and carbenicillin. When her team mixed the phenolic extract with either of these medicines, they indeed found a synergistic effect, allowing them to get the same antimicrobial effect with upwards of 90 percent less antibiotic. The approach worked on a variety of bacterial strains, including E. coli, which can cause gastrointestinal problems; Proteus mirabilis, responsible for many urinary tract infections; and Pseudomonas aeruginosa, which can cause infections often acquired by patients in hospitals.
Building on this work, Tufenkji's team next tested the extract in fruit flies and moth larvae. The researchers dosed fly food with pathogenic bacteria and antibiotic, with and without the phenolic extract. Flies with meals doused in maple syrup extract lived for days longer than those denied the syrupy topper. The researchers observed a similar outcome with the moth larvae.
To figure out how the extract makes antibiotics work better, the researchers investigated whether the extract changed the permeability of bacterial cells. The extract increased the permeability of the bacteria, suggesting that it helps antibiotics gain access to the interior of bacterial cells. Another experiment suggested that the extract may work by a second mechanism as well, disabling the bacterial pump that normally removes antibiotics from these cells.
Currently, the researchers are testing the maple syrup extract in mice. While it is likely to be years before it would be available to patients as a prescribed medical protocol, and a pharmaceutical company would likely need to purify the extract further to avoid any potential allergic reactions, Tufenkji says, she's hopeful that it may have an edge over other would-be medications thanks to its source. "There are other products out there that boost antibiotic strength, but this may be the only one that comes from nature," she says
April 2, 2017
American Chemical Society

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Therre is no question that Pennsylvania has a a thriving Black Bear population and that hunter license tag $$ combined with some excellent scientific management regulations has helped spur the bears revival.......Some of the biggest "Black Bears in the USA are found here and like in neighboring New Jersey, female bears are known to regularly birth 2 and 3 cubs annually..................It was not always this way as 100 years ago like in most of the USA, carnivores of all types were nearly extirpated..........Perhaps 2500 bears existed in Pennsylvania in 1915 compared to some 20,000 today.....................The question that we keep reviewing and debating on this blog through the excellent contributions of biologist John Laundre is---SHOULD NOT ALL FACTIONS OF PENNSYLVANIA SOCIETY,,,,,,BIRD WATCHERS, HIKERS AND THE REST OF US WHO OCCASIONALLY VISIT WOODLANDS HAVE AS MUCH INPUT INTO BEAR MGMT AS DO HUNTERS?

Pennsylvania’s black bear population is a management success story

In Pennsylvania, Black Bears are thriving. The situation was not always that rosy for the Pennsylvania black bear. In the mid-1970s, we had fewer than 3,000 bears in the Keystone State. No one knows the number for sure, or even a close estimate, because bear management was in its infancy. Only 223 bears were harvested in 1974, and 338 in 1975. Bear season was closed in 1977 and 1978. A single-day season was held in mid-December in 1979, and an estimated 200,000 to 250,000 hunters shot 736 bears. Something needed to be done to prevent a potential over harvest

Mark Tenant, Pa. biologist checking on Momma Bear and cubs

Intervention began in the 1970s but did not begin to show results until 1980. Bear season had already been shortened from one week to two days and then to a single day. In 1973, 25 mandatory check stations were established across the bear range. Under the direction of James Lindzey’s Cooperative Research Unit, five graduate research projects were conducted with bears at Penn State during the 1970s. A statewide tagging program began, which allows the PGC to accurately estimate the black bear population. Bears were trapped and transferred from northeastern counties to other areas of the state.
In 1981, hunters were first required to buy a separate bear license. This allowed the number of hunters to be accurately tallied and controlled, if necessary. Counties open to bear hunting expanded from 32 to 41 in 1982. The population had rebounded enough for a three-day statewide season to be held in 1986.

Research led by then-Pennsylvania Game Commission bear biologist Gary Alt discovered that Pennsylvania’s black bears grow faster, reproduce at an earlier age and have more cubs than bears in any other state. Advances were also made in knowledge about bear denning, daily movement and the dispersal of young bears.
Recent research was completed regarding urban bears. A vigorous tagging program of 800 to 900 bears per year continues under the direction of Pennsylvania Game biologist Mark Ternent. As the population grows (and the number of bear complaints increase), the statewide bear season has been lengthened to four days — including a Saturday. Thirteen wildlife management units have extended seasons to help stabilize the bear population.
Looking back over the Game Commission’s bear harvest records, a low of 188 bruins were taken in 1915 — the population perhaps between 2,000 and 3,000 bears. Contrast those figures with the statistics a century later — 3,748 bears harvested in 2015, with the population estimated at 20,000 and still growing. This is a clear testimony to the success of the Commission’s bear management program.

“We are central to the eastern U.S. bear population,” Ternent said. “About 75 percent of Pennsylvania is forested, and we have more square miles occupied by bears than any other eastern state.”
According to Ternent, black bears live in more than 40 states and Canada — totaling about 750,000 animals. Pennsylvania has 3 percent of the bear population, 6 percent of the bear harvest, but a whopping 28 percent of the bear hunters.
Annual research, such as our bear den experience, separate bear licenses and mandatory hunter check stations will ensure that Pennsylvania’s bear population stays healthy and prolific for future generations to enjoy.

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