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Author Topic: For All Daemon Souls and Dog Lovers  (Read 22542 times)
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« Reply #510 on: Oct 26, 2014, 07:19 AM »

Dog makes 6-year journey home

Tyler Sieswerda,

Stolen from the front yard of a Central Texas family, a Yorkie named Bailey finds his way home after six years.

PFLUGERVILLE -- He was born March 3, 2004. A little bundle of fur named Bailey.

"At the time I was at college at UTEP, the University of Texas El Paso, and he was my roommate, so he meant the world to me," said Bailey's owner, Grisel Jaramillo.

Bailey was there for Grisel every day. He was part of every holiday. He was even the ring bearer in her wedding.

But six year ago Bailey vanished. A jogger saw someone scoop him up from the families front yard. He wasn't seen again until Sept. 16.

Like a dream come true, someone spotted the dirty and flea covered Yorkie walking down an Indianapolis, Indiana sidewalk carrying a bone in his mouth. His one link home -- a microchip.

"It is rare for a dog to be missing for six years and be secured with a microchip," said Danielle Beck with Indy Lost Pet Alert.

The reaction in Pflugerville?

"Bailey was found," said Jaramillo. "And here I am I feel my body shaking my response and I start crying."

Immediately people in Indiana started raising money to get Bailey home. And Thursday night it happened.

A six year journey ended when Bailey arrived at ABIA in the loving arms of a volunteer who offered to let the Yorkie tag along on her business trip from Indiana to Austin.

Bailey has a few medical issues that the Jaramillo's will have to take care of such as needing some teeth pulled. The funds raised to get him home should cover the cost and the Jaramillo's have pledged to donate what is left to local animal shelters.

What matters most is that Bailey is home, and a family is once again complete

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« Reply #511 on: Oct 28, 2014, 06:09 AM »

Bird v machine: hawk attacks drone cam – video

The Guardian

A drone equipped with a camera captures its own demise as a hawk attacks the device in mid-air. Drone operator Chris Schmidt was flying his machine at a park in Massachusetts on Wednesday when the red-tailed hawk swooped in for the kill. The bird was not injured (and the machine was unharmed) in the ordeal

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« Reply #512 on: Oct 28, 2014, 06:11 AM »

Horse rescued from swimming pool in Phoenix, Arizona – video report

The Guardian

A horse that fell into a swimming pool in Phoenix, Arizona, is rescued by firefighters. The animal was wandering outside its pen when it fell into the water in its owners' back garden and became stuck. Vets tranquilised the animal to stop it struggling, before hauling it out using straps. The horse was not injured and recovered well

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« Reply #513 on: Oct 28, 2014, 07:26 AM »

CONFIRMED: Two orcas have spent months in cramped, possibly deadly Moscow tanks

Tony Ortega
27 Oct 2014 at 16:17 ET     

In January, Raw Story broke the news that two orcas which were supposedly on their way to Sochi in time to be shown off for the Winter Olympics instead had been flown to Moscow, where all news of them ended.

Relying on accounts from local animal-welfare activists, we suggested that the two orcas, captured off the east coast of Russia in 2012, were being held in horrible conditions — two temporary tanks at a Moscow exhibition center where a new oceanarium is planned, but could be years from completion.

Raw Story has made multiple attempts to get confirmation about whether the two animals are actually being kept in the tanks, and now, Moscow police have admitted that such is the case, telling the Moscow Times that the animals are there.

The Times story is incorrect that the two animals were caught by poachers. As we reported in January, Russia is allowed a certain quota of orca captures each year, but they hadn’t used it in several years. But a consortium of aquarium companies had suddenly become aggressive about pursuing the animals beginning in 2012, and caught several of them, legally. They included Narnia, a 5-meter-long female, and a younger unnamed male, who were housed originally at a facility near Vladivostok.

While some media outlets then reported that the two whales were on their way to Sochi, we showed that reports on social media suggested that instead they had been flown to Moscow for the new aquarium, which is to be built at the All-Russia Exhibition Centre on the north side of the city.

The $63 million project will include a large pool with enough room for two orcas, according to plans put out by the developers…
But that facility is still in the future. For now, the only place the two animals could be kept are in two small cement tanks. Animal-welfare activists in Moscow had told us they could hear orca sounds coming from the facility, but the tanks were covered with an inflatable shell and there was no official word, until now, that the animals are being housed there…
The Moscow Times piece confirmed the worst fears:

    Narnia and her nameless companion have had to spend 10 months — and counting — at a temporary facility, Irina Novozhilova, head of [animal rights group] Vita, told The Moscow Times on Sunday.

    The facility is closed to the public, but Novozhilova said, citing her group’s investigation, that it is 65 meters long and contains two separate tanks for the orcas that she described as “solitary confinement cells.”

    The space is nowhere near enough for the orcas, which are known to cover up to 150 kilometers a day in the ocean, said Konstantin Zgurovsky, who supervises the marine program at WWF Russia.

    “This is a huge stress that could make them dangerous,” Zgurovsky said by telephone.

    The concrete walls will also be interfering with the orcas’ echolocation, which could leave the whales deaf, Novozhilova said.

    The police report published by Vita said the animals were being kept in carefully maintained conditions, with filtered water, a diet consisting of 12 species of fish, and human access limited to experienced trainers and teams of vets.

When we learned in January that the animals might have been confined to the small tanks, which are about 20 meters across by 5 meters deep, we asked Courtney Vail of Whale and Dolphin Conservation if she knew how bad it would be for the animals.

She told us she didn’t expect them to survive very long in them.

So the first orcas ever held in captivity in Russia will be swimming in the small tanks until the aquarium can be completed, supposedly some time next year. If they make it.


'Imprisoned' Killer Whales Spark Outcry in Moscow

By Alexey Eremenko
Oct. 26 2014 19:15
The Moscow Times   

RussianOrca.comNarnia the orca, shown here after her capture in the Far East in 2012, is now being kept in a tank in Moscow.   

Russian police have refused to open a case into orca whales being held in Moscow in what animal rights campaigners say are cramped tanks that could leave the mammals deaf and insane.

Activists claim that killer whale cries have been heard for months at the VDNKh exhibition center in northern Moscow.

Last month, Moscow Deputy Mayor Marat Khusnullin was cited by Interfax as saying that the orcas, which are due to become the stars of the new VDNKh oceanarium, were being kept in the Far East pending the opening of the new facility.

But city police have confirmed the animals are being held in temporary facilities at the exhibition center, according to a copy of a police statement published by hardline animal rights group Vita.

A 7-year-old, 2.5-ton female whale named Narnia and an unnamed 5-year-old, 1.5-ton male were flown to Moscow last December, two provincial media outlets said at the time. Police said the whales — the first orcas in captivity in Russia — were captured from poachers between mid-2012 and mid-2013 in the Sea of Okhotsk in Russia's Far East.

The new oceanarium, set to become Europe's biggest and the first in Russia to host orcas, was initially due to open in spring this year, but is still under construction and is now expected to open in 2015.

As a result, Narnia and her nameless companion have had to spend 10 months — and counting — at a temporary facility, Irina Novozhilova, head of Vita, told The Moscow Times on Sunday.
'Solitary Confinement'

The facility is closed to the public, but Novozhilova said, citing her group's investigation, that it is 65 meters long and contains two separate tanks for the orcas that she described as "solitary confinement cells."

The space is nowhere near enough for the orcas, which are known to cover up to 150 kilometers a day in the ocean, said Konstantin Zgurovsky, who supervises the marine program at WWF Russia.

"This is a huge stress that could make them dangerous," Zgurovsky said by telephone.

The concrete walls will also be interfering with the orcas' echolocation, which could leave the whales deaf, Novozhilova said.

The police report published by Vita said the animals were being kept in carefully maintained conditions, with filtered water, a diet consisting of 12 species of fish, and human access limited to experienced trainers and teams of vets.

The situation does not comprise animal abuse, a criminal offense punishable in Russia with up to two years in prison, the report said. It did not mention the alleged lack of space or threat to the animals' hearing.

VDNKh's administration has not publicly commented on the issue, and its representatives could not be reached for comment by e-mail or telephone Sunday.

Russia allows limited orca hunting, and captive whales can be kept at any kind of facility without a license.
No Abuse

The legal definition of animal abuse in Russia is very narrow: Only the intentional murder or maiming, committed out of hooliganism, with sadistic intent, in the presence of minors or for profit qualifies for criminal liability.

Environmental activists interviewed for this article conceded that the orcas' treatment at VDNKh did not necessarily constitute animal abuse under current legislation.

But they said it was still unethical, and highlighted the need for change.

"We need a law on the treatment of captive marine animals. Every civilized country has one, but Russia doesn't," said Olga Filatova of the Far East Russia Orca Project conservancy.

She added that while there is not enough data about the global population of orcas, some herds, including in Narnia's native Sea of Okhotsk, are estimated to be endangered.

The campaign to save the two whales at VDNKh is part of a global drive to spare sea mammals from captivity.

A handful of countries, including Brazil, Britain, Chile, India, Greece and Switzerland, as well as the U.S. states New York and South Carolina, have banned or severely curbed the use of cetaceans and other marine mammals in the entertainment industry in recent years.

The issue was thrust into the public spotlight by the release of the 2013 documentary "Blackfish" about an orca that killed three people during her time in captivity in one of the SeaWorld marine parks in the U.S.

The film said that killer whales — which, contrary to a popular misconception, do not kill humans in the wild — can be driven to live up to their name due to psychological trauma inflicted by a captive environment, which is radically different from the orca's natural habitat.

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« Reply #514 on: Oct 29, 2014, 04:48 AM »

Vaccine ‘success’ raises hopes of saving koalas from chlamydia

Agence France-Presse
29 Oct 2014 at 06:22 ET                   

Australian scientists said Wednesday they have successfully tested a vaccine against chlamydia in wild koalas, in what they believe is a breakthrough in combating the sexually-transmitted disease ravaging the native marsupial.

The much-loved furry animal has been under increasing threat, with the government classifying it as a vulnerable species amid a plunge in population numbers from habitat loss, disease and other factors.

Microbiologists from the University of the Sunshine Coast in Queensland hope to be able to protect some of the remaining population after successfully trialling a chlamydia vaccine that they spent five years developing.

“It’s all very promising and it’s not just that it’s doing the right thing from an immune response point of view, but it’s actually protecting a significant number of them out in the wild climbing around trees,” professor Peter Timms told AFP of the field trial, believed to be the first of its kind.

Chlamydia can lead to blindness, infertility and death among koalas. The risk of infertility also exacerbates the impact of other factors that are already reducing population levels.

Thought to number in excess of 10 million before British settlers arrived in 1788, there are now believed to be as few as 43,000 koalas left in the wild, though their existence high in the treetops makes them difficult to count.

In the trial, microbiologists Timms and Adam Polkinghorne gave 30 koalas the vaccine while 30 others were left unvaccinated against the disease, which is endemic in some koala populations.

All 60 koalas were fitted with radio collars so they could be monitored in their natural habitat at Moreton Bay north of Brisbane.

Of the 30 vaccinated, some were healthy, some were already infected with chlamydia, and some were showing signs of the disease, typically eye infections and reproductive tract infections.

For the trial, seven out of eight koalas suffering from eye infections who received the vaccine showed an improvement. In the unvaccinated group, four of the six koalas with eye infections saw their conditions worsen.

The researchers also found that koalas infected with the chlamydia strain who were then vaccinated did not go on to develop the full-blown disease.

“In the unvaccinated group, three of the animals have already got the disease, but in the vaccinated group, none of them got the disease,” Timms said.

He said it is crucial to stop the spread of chlamydia as the disease is one of the “tipping points” contributing to the decline of the animal. “The vaccine would actually make a difference,” Timms said.

Timms hopes to continue the trial, such as through the possible vaccination of entire communities of koalas — about 50 to 100 animals each — in areas where they could be at risk.

Koalas temporarily admitted to sanctuaries or hospitals could also be vaccinated before they are returned to the wild.

“We hope to specifically show a positive effect of the vaccine on disease, not just infection, as well as female reproductive rates,” Timms said.

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« Reply #515 on: Oct 30, 2014, 06:18 AM »

Private zoos boasting exotic animals – the new status symbol of Armenia's elite

Government accused of turning blind eye to importation of endangered species with cheetahs, lions, tigers and bears kept as pets. reports

Marianna Grigoryan for, part of the New East network, Thursday 30 October 2014 10.33 GMT   
The neighbours of Mher Sedrakian, an MP in Armenia’s ruling Republican party, have a persistent problem with noise. But this is not about wild parties or car horns. Rather, it is about lions.

The lions that Sedrakian allegedly keeps as pets at his home in the Armenian capital Yerevan roar continuously, his neighbours complain.

Increasingly, many Armenians can understand that concern. Private zoos with lions, tigers and bears are emerging as a popular hobby for the wealthy and powerful, and the government does not seem inclined to intervene.

Instead, recent amendments to wildlife legislation seem to facilitate this pastime. Private citizens are allowed to own wild animals, including endangered species, as long as they provide areas for the animals that ensure their “life, health and safety”, and prevent escape from captivity, the law says. Supervision is supposed to be “constant”.

But it is not. Last November, tiger cubs were found in the streets of Etchmiadzin, a town about 12 miles from the capital, Yerevan, local media reported.

Although tigers, as an endangered species, cannot be exported from the wild, their import from zoos is allowed.

A search of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (Cites) database for 2008 to 2013 shows the import of six tigers to Armenia, including three Siberian tigers from Ukraine. The others came from Belgium, Chile and Kazakhstan.

An Armenian border guard official, who declined to be named, said that a tiger can be brought into the country if documents show its country of origin and demonstrate that it is the third generation of a zoo-based line.

A Cites certificate that authorises the animal’s shipment is also required, said Hovhannes Mkrtchian, head of the ministry of agriculture’s food security department, which checks import documents and verifies the animals’ health.

Yet investigative reports by the news site indicate that not all of the exotic animals imported into Armenia – for example an endangered bonobo – end up in the Cites database.

Similarly, though crocodiles were offered for sale in Yerevan supermarkets last December for New Year’s celebrations, the database contains no mention of their import as food products.

It does, however, show an array of exotic imports. Cheetahs topped the feline list, with 18 imports from the United Arab Emirates and South Africa between 2008 and 2013. Nine lions were brought in during the same period; most from the United Arab Emirates.

Forty-one dumbo-eared fennec foxes, natives of the Sahara, entered Armenia between 2009 and 2010, while 21 rheas, ostrich-like birds from South America, made the trip in 2012.

Whether or not these animals were meant for the Yerevan zoo was not immediately clear.
The American Rhea, one of a number of exotic birds brought into Armenia.

Yerevan zoo director Ruben Khachatrian said his facility was “making every effort to meet international standards”, and expressed regret that Armenia had developed a reputation for an illegal trade in wild animals.

“Because of certain persons, Armenia has a bad international image in terms of the unlawful trade in animals,” Khachatrian said.

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« Reply #516 on: Today at 06:03 AM »

Infection That Devastates Amphibians, Already in Europe, Could Spread to U.S.

OCT. 30, 2014

An emerging infection similar to one that has caused the extinction of hundreds of frog and toad species around the world is killing salamanders in Europe and could easily spread to the United States, with disastrous effects, scientists reported Thursday.

Writing in the journal Science, an international team of 27 researchers blamed the spread of the disease on “globalization and a lack of biosecurity” and said the importation of the fire-bellied newt in the pet trade with Asia was the likely cause.

The lead researcher, An Martel of Ghent University in Belgium, said in an interview that Europe and the United States needed to start screening amphibians in the pet trade.

“When animals are traded, they should be screened,” Dr. Martel said. “It should involve the world.”

Other scientists agreed. “We need to pay attention to this paper,” said Vance T. Vredenburg of San Francisco State University, one of the scientists who has sounded the alarm about the extinction of hundreds of frog and toad species worldwide over the last four decades.

“We need to think about biosecurity not just in terms of humans and food that we eat and crops that we grow,” he said. “We need to think about functioning ecosystems.”

Dr. Vredenburg is a co-author of a 2008 paper that described the disappearance of frog species as a prime example of what some scientists call the sixth extinction, a mass death of species going on now caused by humans.

In the frog disappearances, the culprit, a fungus called Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, was not identified until decades after the extinctions had begun. Where it originated is still not known.

The effects of that fungus, Dr. Vredenburg said, represent “the worst case in recorded history of a single pathogen affecting vertebrates,” causing an “extinction rate 40,000 times higher than in the last 350 million years for amphibians.”

The fungus killing salamanders and newts, Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans, is in the same genus, and it also kills animals by infecting the skin. But this time, Dr. Vredenburg said: “We found it early enough to have a chance. The Titanic knows there’s an iceberg out there.”

The United States, as yet untouched by the infection, has the greatest biodiversity of salamanders in the world, and many of its species are already threatened or endangered.

The animals are seldom noticed but are an integral part of forest and aquatic ecosystems, as predators and prey.

A recent study suggested that their decline could affect climate change because the proliferation of some of the creatures they eat could cause a greater release of carbon into the atmosphere.

Dr. Martel and other scientists first identified the fungus a year ago, and described its role in the deaths of fire salamanders in Europe. In the new paper, they investigated its origin and presence around the world and the susceptibility of different species to it.

In the lab, the researchers infected 44 species of salamanders and newts (salamanders live on land, newts in water). Forty-one, they wrote, “rapidly died.” It did not affect frogs and toads.

Several Asian species were resistant, and molecular biology studies of DNA suggested that there may be a reservoir of the fungus in Asian newts popular in the aquarium trade.

The study found evidence of the fungus in amphibians in Vietnam, Thailand and Japan, where the animals were not affected, and in the Netherlands and Belgium, where it killed numerous populations. Dr. Martel identified the shipping of live newts for the aquarium trade as the way the fungus spread.

James Collins, at Arizona State University, who has studied the spread of fungal disease in frogs, said that further study was needed to prove that the pet trade was the culprit in the disease’s spread because it was possible that the fungus was wind-borne, or spread by migrating birds.

But, Dr. Collins said, it was clear that the fungus and the lack of screening in the shipping of live animals posed a major threat to salamanders in the United States and Europe. Disease screening exists for threats to agriculture, he said, but not for animals in the pet or aquarium trades.

“When something like Ebola emerges,” he said, international and federal agencies like the World Health Organization or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention can act. “Something like that is needed,” he said.

Karen R. Lips at the University of Maryland, one of the authors of the Science paper, met on Thursday with Fish and Wildlife Service officials to talk about the new fungus. She said there were now bills in Congress that could enable the agency to screen for infected wildlife.

“If Congress wanted to, they could take action,” she said.


Salamander’s Hefty Role in the Forest

APRIL 7, 2014

If someone asked you to name the top predator in North American forests, you might think of bears, or maybe great horned owls. But here’s another answer to think about: woodland salamanders.

These skittish, slippery amphibians literally live under a rock, or a log, or any convenient dark and damp forest habitat. As apex predators go, they are mainly small, a few inches long and weighing well under an ounce.

But they are hugely abundant — and very hungry. On an average day, a salamander eats 20 ants of all sizes, two fly or beetle larvae, one adult beetle and half of an insect called the springtail. And in doing so, they collectively affect the entire course of life in the forest — and perhaps far beyond.

According to a new study in the journal Ecosphere, salamanders play a significant role in the global carbon cycle. If flatulent cattle are among the black hats of climate change (the livestock industry emits 14.5 percent of human-associated greenhouse gases), then salamanders may just be the white hats, helping to stave off climate disaster. If no one has noticed this before, well, this is how it goes when you live under a rock.

The study — by Hartwell H. Welsh Jr., a herpetologist at the United States Forest Service’s research station in Arcata, Calif., and Michael L. Best, now at the College of the Redwoods in Eureka, Calif. — notes that salamanders’ prey consists almost entirely of “shredding invertebrates,” bugs that spend their lives ripping leaves to little bits and eating them.

Leaf litter from deciduous trees is on average 47.5 percent carbon, which tends to be released into the atmosphere, along with methane, when the shredding invertebrates shred and eat them.

If there aren’t as many shredders at work and the leaves remain in place, uneaten, they are covered by other leaves, “like being trapped under a wet blanket,” as Dr. Welsh put it. The anaerobic environment under those layers preserves the carbon until it can be captured by the soil, a process called humification.

At least in theory, having more salamanders in a forest should mean fewer shredding invertebrates and more carbon safely locked underground. The researchers tested this theory in a forest in northwestern California, laying out a series of 16-square-foot enclosures, like containers for raised-bed gardens.

Some of the enclosures had salamanders, others didn’t. Each enclosure was joined to its neighbors by low, screened openings, so invertebrates could move freely back and forth, but the salamanders had to remain in their enclosures.

The presence of salamanders resulted in a significant decrease in shredders: fly and beetle larvae, adult beetles and springtails. In the plots with no salamanders there were more shredders, and they consumed about 13 percent more of the leaf litter. Almost half of that lost weight was carbon, released into the atmosphere.

“It’s more than just a curious phenomenon,” Dr. Welsh said. “It’s real.”

The authors calculate that woodland salamanders at the density in their study would send 179 pounds of carbon per acre of forest down into the soil, rather than up into the atmosphere. Extrapolated to the huge numbers of woodland salamanders and other predators working in the leaf litter of forests around the world, that is enough to affect global climate.

Another factor is that many salamanders have no lungs. About 70 percent of all salamanders belong to a single family, the Plethodontidae, which in effect breathe through their skin. (A pulsing flap of skin under their throats, called the gular fold, lets in just enough air for a sense of smell.)

The process requires much less energy than breathing with lungs, enabling salamanders to “be really small and exploit really tiny things that are not calorically sufficient for birds or mammals,” said John C. Maerz, a salamander specialist at the University of Georgia who was not involved in the Ecosphere study. While humans, with their relentless metabolism, burn off most of what they eat, salamanders store large amounts of carbon, nitrogen and other nutrients in their own bodies, or in the form of abundant offspring.

This low-key lifestyle makes them the hidden masters of the forest — “the vacuum cleaners of the forest floor,” as Dr. Maerz put it.

But he and the Ecosphere authors do not entirely agree about what that means for the larger significance of salamanders.

Dr. Maerz thinks the effect on the carbon cycle may apply in wet conditions, but not when the weather is too dry for humification. He also worries about trying to apply what happens “in these little square meters” on a larger scale.

His own studies have demonstrated that stable isotopes of carbon and nitrogen in leaves end up, via shredding invertebrates, stored away in the flesh of salamanders — like “a standing crop of nutrients,” he said. But climate heroes? Dr. Maerz prefers to think of them simply as a dominant driver of the forest energy cycle.

Shahid Naeem, an ecologist and climate scientist at Columbia University, agreed that “temperature, rain and other nonbiological factors probably explain more about the carbon cycle than salamanders.”

But he added:  “What’s nice about the study is the elegant quantification of how a change in a food web has consequences — something a lot of people know when it comes to the big, visible species, but not when it comes to the smaller, less visible, ones.  Lose the salamanders, and there are effects that ripple through the system.”

The notion of losing something as abundant as salamanders is not all that far-fetched. Another new study, in the journal Global Change Biology, compares present-day salamanders with some of the 180,000 specimens collected across the United States by the herpetologist Richard Highton, now retired from the University of Maryland. Dr. Highton, who began collecting in 1957, thought he saw a decrease in salamander size and abundance beginning about 1980.

When Karen R. Lips, an amphibian specialist, came to the University of Maryland a few years ago, she decided to follow up that hunch. She and colleagues revisited many of Dr. Highton’s research sites, concentrating on relatively unchanged habitat in national parks and forests from Tennessee to Maryland. Their results showed that salamanders had shrunk in size by 8 percent in 55 years — about 1 percent per generation.

That is “one of the largest and fastest rates of change ever recorded in any animal,” Dr. Lips said. Worse, salamanders were disappearing; even the abundant and widely distributed red-backed salamander was often absent.

Dr. Lips, who had done pioneering research on the chytrid fungus pandemic devastating frog species, thought at first that it might be spreading to salamanders. But her team found almost no trace of chytrid in the salamanders they collected, nor could they attribute the changes to logging, acid rain or overcollecting by biologists.

Instead, the study concludes that salamanders, which were mostly small to start with, are becoming even smaller as a way to adapt to warmer weather and reduced rainfall. If so, they may well rank as both heroes and victims in the fight against climate change — with unknown consequences for the fate of the forests themselves.

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