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 11 
 on: Today at 05:49 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Rad
Orphaned tree kangaroo is all grown up and going to live in Singapore

Makaia was raised in Adelaide zoo by a yellow-footed rock wallaby but is on his way to Singapore zoo, hopefully to mate with a Goodfellow’s tree kangaroo

Australian Associated Press
Monday 27 June 2016 06.18 BST   

An orphaned Goodfellow’s tree kangaroo that was saved when it was adopted by a wallaby is set to leave Adelaide zoo for a new home in Singapore.

In what was regarded as a world first for the endangered species, Makaia, whose mother died suddenly when he was seven weeks old, was saved in 2014 when vets and keepers used cross-fostering to have him raised by a yellow-footed rock wallaby.

“Cross-fostering” is a breeding technique that Adelaide zoo began pioneering in the 1990s. It involves transferring endangered joeys to the pouch of a surrogate mother of a different wallaby species.

    — Nine News Adelaide (@9NewsAdel)
    June 27, 2016

    Orphan tree kangaroo heads to Singapore: https://t.co/jiUshJdTpu #9News pic.twitter.com/NOPmOIVbhL

Makaia stayed with his surrogate mother for more than three months and grew to a healthy, maturing adult.

The zoo has been successful over the years cross-fostering between wallaby species, but it had never been used on a Goodfellow’s tree kangaroo so it was a huge achievement, a senior vet, Ian Smith, said.

“He is extremely genetically valuable for the region and we are hopeful he will form an important part of the international breeding program working to save this endangered species from extinction,” he said.
Orphaned tree kangaroo raised by surrogate wallaby mother in Adelaide zoo
Read more

Makaia had his final health checks on Monday and will leave for Singapore zoo next week.

Once he settles in it is hoped he will mate with another tree kangaroo sent from Sydney’s Taronga zoo.

 12 
 on: Today at 05:47 AM 
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How the dormouse is returning to England’s hedgerows after 100 years

Moves to save the tiny woodland mammal from extinction could herald the reintroduction of larger lost species such as the wolf and sea eagle

Jessica Aldred
AFP
Sunday 26 June 2016 07.30 BST

More than 100 years after they were last recorded by Victorian naturalists in Yorkshire’s Wensleydale valley, rare dormice have returned to a secret woodland location there.

Last Thursday, 20 breeding pairs of rare hazel dormice (Muscardinus avellanarius) were reintroduced in the Yorkshire Dales national park as part of a national scheme to reverse the decline of one of Britain’s most threatened mammals.

The tiny, golden-brown creatures, known for their sleepy disposition and winter hibernation, were once widespread throughout England and Wales. Exact numbers are unknown, but their distribution and population has declined significantly over the past 100 years, and the species is now classed as vulnerable to extinction.

    We want to create a landscape for dormice and that will make the population more robust
    Ian White

Dormice depend on well-managed woodlands and healthy, connected hedgerows for their survival. But changes in land use since the second world war have been so drastic that the dormice that remain in southern Britain have limited living space and are increasingly isolated.

“Throughout most of our history we have used and managed woodlands, but since the end of the last war that stopped,” said Ian White, who as dormouse officer of the People’s Trust for Endangered Species (PTES)is in charge of the reintroduction programme. “Now woods are mostly used for people to walk their dogs. The dormouse is a species that really benefits from that management – it’s because we stopped that they struggled and became extinct in places.”

Last week’s release, led by the PTES and supported by a coalition of conservation groups, is the 22nd in the last 23 years. More than 800 dormice have been released at 21 different sites across 12 English counties where they had become extinct.

“One of the exciting things about this release is that dormice were known to be at Wensleydale valley in 1885, so we really are putting them back within the counties where they have been lost,” said White.

Ahead of the release, he and his team found a site of dense, good quality woodland while the captive-bred dormice waited in quarantine. After checks by vets, the dormice were then paired up and placed in “soft release” cages – secure wooden nest boxes fitted to the trees and surrounded by a metre-square mesh cage that allows them to gradually acclimatise to their new habitat.

For 10 days, the dormice will be checked and fed daily, then a small opening will be made, allowing them the freedom to explore their new home while retaining the security of the cage. These will be removed in October, when the animals start to hibernate.

“The hope is that we have a free-living population in the wood, but we won’t know how they have fared until next year,” said White. Unsuitable habitat, captive-bred animals and incorrect management could all scupper the chances of success. A distinctive factor of this release is the aim of linking up with another released dormouse population three miles away by managing the land between. “We want to create a landscape for dormice and that will make the population more robust,” said White.

Woodlands were traditionally managed through coppicing, which provided varied food and plenty of light for dormice. But the practice has been lost, with remaining woodland sliced up by roads, railways and fields. England lost more than 50% of its hedgerows between 1946 and 1993, from an estimated 500,000 miles to 236,000. And as dormice spend all their time off the ground, the scheme aims to create links between populations in the form of improved hedgerows, woods and drystone walls.

“It’s very important that we reintroduce the dormouse because they are a good species to get people involved with conservation,” said White. “They are a fascinating species that is rare but you can still see. They promote good woodland management and what’s good for dormice is good for a large range of species like birds, bats and butterflies.”

Helen Meech, the director of Rewilding Britain, an organisation campaigning to restore lost species and habitats to the British countryside, said that such reintroductions would increase people’s tolerance to living with more wild animals once again.

“People’s everyday wildlife experience is becoming grey squirrels and pigeons,” she said. “We are increasingly disconnected from nature. In 30 to 40 years’ time, we might get to the point where we can start to think about bringing back wolves, bison or moose, but let’s start with species that will have a lighter impact for now.”

Lost British species

Over centuries, Britain has lost many key species such as beaver, boar and wolf that are critical for healthy ecosystems. Here are some of the species conservationists are proposing to reintroduce…

Lynx

Believed to have disappeared from Britain about 1,000 years ago. Experts say the return of the lynx would help control the fast-growing population of red deer, allowing forests to regenerate and support greater biodiversity. The preference of the Lynx, a shy animal, to stay in its woodland habitat would make a threat to livestock or humans unlikely. The Lynx UK Trust is seeking a licence for trial releases in Scotland and the Kielder forest in Northumberland.

Beavers

After an absence of 400 years, beavers are back in Britain. The Devon Beaver project cites improvements in biodiversity and water after the reintroduction of a pair near Okehampton in 2011. Scotland’s first reintroduction, in Knapdale forest in 2009, was hailed an “outstanding success”, but an unlicensed free-living population in the river Tay has caused problems. Wales also has reintroduction plans.

Wolves

Lost to Britain in the 1700s, the wolf is the most controversial species proposed for reintroduction given its potential to kill livestock. But they are critical to the restoration of ecosystems that have been overgrazed by deer. Despite their fearsome reputation, they present a low risk to people. Because of the space a wolf population would need, the Scottish Highlands would be the obvious place for their reintroduction and could generate millions of pounds in tourism.

Sea eagle

The sea eagle, also known as the white-tailed eagle, was driven to extinction in Britain earlier this century. A reintroduction programme by Scottish Natural Heritage and the RSPB has seen it return to the Inner Hebrides island of Mull. Proposals to bring it back to the east of England failed following concerns from landowners about the threat to livestock. Successful schemes in Europe have offered compensation.

Wild boar

Boar disappeared in the 13th century because of hunting. They increase biodiversity and create space for trees and plants to grow, but can cause damage to crops and gardens. The species has been quietly re-establishing itself in the woodlands of Britain for several decades.

 13 
 on: Today at 05:40 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Rad
World's Ugliest Dog winner is blind chihuahua with oozing sore

    Owner will use $1,500 for removal of tumor on SweePee Rambo’s gum
    Himisaboo, ‘dog that looks like Donald Trump’, fails to place
    Worst in show: how the world’s ugliest dogs get competition ready: http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2016/jun/24/how-worlds-ugliest-dog-get-ready-california

Associated Press in Petaluma, California
Saturday 25 June 2016 20.41 BST   

A 17-year-old Chinese crested chihuahua with legs bowed out like a frog and an oozing sore won the 2016 World’s Ugliest Dog contest on Friday night.

SweePee Rambo took home the title at the annual Petaluma World’s Ugliest Dog contest at the Sonoma-Marin Fairgrounds after besting 15 other malformed pooches, The Santa Rosa Press Democrat reported.

Judges in the contest, now on its 28th year, take into account factors including stench, poor complexion and other inherited and acquired maladies.

SweePee has a mohawk that glistens in the sun and a tongue that sticks out. She is blind in both eyes and has to wear doggie diapers.

Owner Jason Wurtz, 44, of Encino, said he got the dog as a gift for his first wife but after a week she didn’t want anything to do with it. Wurtz said he couldn’t bear to let her go, calling her a “ride or die chick” in the description he wrote for the contest.

When the 4lb dog was announced the winner, Wurtz’s younger brother, Jeffrey Wurtz, burst into tears, shouting SweePee’s name and shaking a homemade sign that read “SweePee Rambo for President 2016”.

The presidential election was a theme throughout the contest. One pup named Himisaboo, who didn’t place, had a flowing golden tuft that resembled that of the presumptive Republican nominee.

“Whether you love him, or loathe him, a vote for Himisaboo is a vote for a dog that looks like Donald Trump,” said Heather Wilson, Himisaboo’s owner, who drove from Idaho for the occasion.

Jason Wurtz and SweePee took the title and trophy and a prize of $1,500. Wurtz said he would use the money to pay for the removal of a tumor that recently popped up on SweePee’s gum line.

 14 
 on: Today at 05:36 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Rad
For Zebras on the Run, Stripes May Provide Protection

The theory known as “motion dazzle” suggests that dramatically patterned animals in motion can confuse, and elude, their predators.

Photograph by Martin Harvey, Corbis
National Geographic
By Rachel Hartigan Shea

    This story appears in the July 2016 issue of National Geographic magazine.

If a zebra zigs, will its stripes make a predator zag? That’s the idea behind motion dazzle, a century-old hypothesis about why some animals sport high-contrast patterns. Unlike camouflage, which allows prey to blend into surroundings, motion dazzle may mask movement, confusing predators about direction and speed. “We have all these ideas about animal patterns,” says Cambridge University biologist Laura Kelley, “but very few of these hypotheses have actually been tested.”

To find out whether patterns make prey difficult to catch, Kelley and her colleagues have developed an online game with humans as the predators. Dazzle Bug players try to nab patterned “bugs” skittering across natural backgrounds. The easy-to-catch critters disappear; the evasive ones reproduce. Eventually only the hardest-to-catch patterns remain. Says Kelley, “We’re trying to determine the ideal pattern for avoiding capture during movement.”

 15 
 on: Today at 05:35 AM 
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CS Monitor

Sea Turtle Recovering After Being Stepped on and Beaten for Selfies

The animal is receiving care from a rescue group after incident on a Lebanon beach, which is the latest in a string of attacks on wildlife.

This female loggerhead turtle is recovering at Animals Lebanon after a harrowing day at the beach.

Photogrpah by Jason Mier, Animals Lebanon
By Brian Clark Howard
National Geographic
PUBLISHED June 24, 2016

An endangered loggerhead sea turtle suffered a painful ordeal on a beach in Lebanon last week, when people allegedly dragged it out of the surf, stepped on it to take selfies, and then beat it with sticks.

Suffering serious injuries, including cracked bones on its head, the female turtle was rescued and is being rehabilitated by the charity group Animals Lebanon.

That group is working with the country's Ministry of Agriculture and Civil Defense to "make sure this sea turtle does not die from this unnecessary, avoidable, and illegal cruelty," Animals Lebanon writes on its website.

Harassment of the animal reportedly took place at Havana Beach in Beirut. After someone allegedly dragged it onto the beach from the water, a crowd gathered around it. A child stood on the turtle's back while people snapped photos.

At the Animals Lebanon facility, the turtle is being treated with antibiotics and has received x-rays.

"The damage is visible and evident—the blows and trauma she suffered have broken through the top of her head, and water from the sea has reached her sinus cavities," the group writes.

The charity is working with vets to help the turtle recover. Without help, the injuries had a good chance of being fatal. (Learn about the death of a bison calf in Yellowstone after tourists picked it up.)

Loggerhead sea turtles (Caretta caretta) are endangered. Persistent population declines due to pollution, shrimp trawling, and development in their nesting areas, among other factors, have kept this wide-ranging seagoer on the threatened species list since 1978.

Over the past few years, activists have worked to protect nesting sites on southern Lebanon beaches from development, sometimes clashing with local government.

The largest of all hard-shelled turtles, loggerheads have massive heads, strong jaws, and a reddish-brown shell, or carapace. Adult males reach about three feet (nearly one meter) in shell length and weigh about 250 pounds (113 kilograms), but large specimens of 1,000 pounds (454 kilograms) have been found.

The turtles range around the world, in all but very cold water. They primarily eat fish and invertebrates, with some seagrasses. Starting around age 25, mature females often return to the beach where they hatched to lay their eggs, often traveling thousands of miles.

News of the turtle's attack comes a few months after outrage was sparked when a baby dolphin died in Argentina, after a crowd of people passed it around for photos. Last week, a jaguar that was used in an Olympic torch ceremony in Brazil was killed, after it tried to escape. A few years ago, a woman was arrested for riding a manatee in Florida.

Such incidents raise questions about humans' relationship to other living things, particularly in an era of selfies and social media.

 16 
 on: Today at 05:30 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Rad
Romance of the Seas: Strange Mating Habits of the Seahorse

From daily dances to male pregnancy, these fish are unique in life and love.

Lined seahorses mate—an acrobatic experience.

Photograph by George Grall, National Geographic Creative
By Liz Langley
National Geographic
PUBLISHED June 25, 2016

A romance tip from fish?

Well, not just any fish. Thanks to Samm Newman Hernandez, who asked about seahorses—their life spans, sizes, and how they mate—Weird Animal Question of the Week learned a lot about these fantastic fish. That includes a morning routine many human relationships might benefit from.

Dance in the Morning

“The male and female seahorse come together repeatedly every morning to dance together” to reinforce their pair bond, says Amanda Vincent, a marine biologist at the University of British Columbia and founder of the conservation group Project Seahorse.

They change color as they move together, sometimes with tails entwined.

That tail, says George Burgess of the Florida Museum of Natural History, is prehensile, anchoring them to things like blades of sea grass with a grip Burgess compares to a baby grasping an adult’s finger.
What to Expect When He’s Expecting

The dance also helps the pair assess each other’s reproductive status.

Seahorses are in the same family as pipefish, and both have a “male-bears-the-young reproductive strategy,” Burgess says.

Vincent describes the female's ovipositor, “a penis-equivalent protrusion from the bottom of her torso,” as an “ingenious packing device.” Through it, she transfers her pear-shaped eggs into the male’s brood pouch. That structure has walls that provide maximum surface area, so every embryo can embed in its soft tissue.

Vincent saw one male slender seahorse produce 1,572 offspring, “and his pouch was only about a half tablespoon in volume.”

Shortly after the male gives birth to tiny, fully independent offspring, the female has “already got her eggs ready to go,” and they mate again right away.

Male pregnancy means “the male is certain he's the father,” Vincent says. That may be why males are so involved.

Staying in the Race

There are 40 known seahorse species, which vary in size and appearance. The tiniest is Denise’s pygmy seahorse, which is about the size of a nickel (0.8 inch, or 2 centimeters, long). Its bumpy, orange body is the perfect camouflage against the gorgonian corals of the western Pacific and attests to the seahorse’s reputation as a master of disguise.

Among the larger species is the big-bellied seahorse, which lives around Australia and New Zealand and comes in at about 13 inches (33 centimeters) long.

In the wild, seahorses have a life span that can range from one to five years. But unfortunately, these magical creatures are in decline.

The sea grass beds many seahorses inhabit are “at the doorstep of civilization,” Burgess says, meaning they are often impacted by pollution and sedimentation.

This tiny Denise pygmy seahorse—the world's smallest—was photographed in West Papua, Indonesia.
Photograph by WaterFrame, Alamy

In Florida, where lined seahorses live around the peninsula, Burgess says, “I've seen some of the most beautiful beds disappearing, along with the fauna that lives in them.”

Overuse of seahorses for traditional medicines (which scientists say don't work), collection for the aquarium trade and curiosities, and accidental entrapment in shrimp trawls have all led to notable population declines among the species, Vincent adds.

If you’re lucky enough to see a wild seahorse, reporting sightings to iSeahorse.org helps scientists keep track of these magical fish.

After all, who doesn't like animals that dance every morning?

 17 
 on: Today at 05:26 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Rad
Four Tons of ‘Plastic’ Discovered to Be Smuggled Pangolin Scales

In this week’s crime blotter: prison for an auctioneer, a bird researcher bust, and a suspected ranger turned poacher.

Last year Indonesian authorities confiscated these dead pangolins. The animals are poached for their scales and meat.

Photograph by Binsar Bakkara, AP
By Jani Actman
National Geographic
PUBLISHED June 26, 2016

Hong Kong officials made one of the largest ever seizures of African pangolin scales on Thursday after discovering 4.4 tons (4,000 kilograms) of scales hidden in cargo labeled “sliced plastics” from Cameroon, according to a press release from the government.

The haul is estimated to represent between 1,100 and 6,600 pangolins and be worth $1.25 million (HK$9.8 million), according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), an international conservation organization.

Pangolins, also known as scaly anteaters, are nocturnal mammals found in Africa and Asia whose populations have plummeted in recent years. They gained recognition a few years ago when wildlife experts gave them the unhappy distinction of being the most trafficked mammal in the world. More than a million pangolins have been illegally plucked from the wild during the past decade to satisfy demand—mainly in China and Vietnam—for their meat and scales, used in traditional medicine and considered a delicacy.

The Hong Kong government says this is one of the biggest pangolin scale busts they’ve made in the last five years, and the IUCN says it’s one of the biggest busts of African pangolin scales ever.

“There is no question that pangolins are suffering deeply at the hands of traffickers,” said Jeff Flocken, of the International Fund for Animal Welfare, an animal protection nonprofit, in a statement. “The most recent incident is another example of why stronger protections for pangolins are needed immediately.”

A number of countries have proposed stronger international protections for all eight species of Asian and African pangolins. Currently, the limited legal trade in African pangolins has provided cover for the flourishing illegal trade of all pangolin species. The proposals, which will be considered by the 182 member countries of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) this fall, would make it illegal to trade in all eight species. (Also see: "What’s Next for the World’s Most Trafficked Mammal?")

Also this week, police in Sumatra arrested an Indonesian soldier and his suspected accomplice after finding eight pangolins in the backseat of their car, Mongabay reports. They were intercepted while driving in Medina after police staked out the duo for two days.

Some other wildlife crime busts, convictions, and investigations around the world announced this past week:

ROGUE RANGERS: Cops arrested a ranger in South Africa’s Kruger National Park suspected of poaching a rhino, Lowvelder reports. Another suspect drowned after jumping into the Nsikazi River just outside the park, and a third suspect escaped.

BIDDING ON WILDLIFE: A U.S. judge sentenced prominent auctioneer Joseph Chait, of Beverly Hills-based I.M. Chait Gallery, to a year and a day in prison and a $10,000 fine for conspiring to smuggle rhino horn, elephant ivory, and coral worth at least $1 million, the Department of Justice announced. Chait and his co-conspirators falsified customs forms by claiming that rhino horn and elephant ivory products were made of bone, wood, or plastic.

BUSTED BIRD RESEARCHER: Federal prosecutors charged an ornithologist with the University of Alaska Museum of the North with several counts of illegally smuggling bird specimens into the U.S., according to KTUU. He’s accused of smuggling birds from Peru and using a federal permit that let him import birds for the museum to bulk up his personal collection.

CAVIAR CRACKDOWN: A weeks-long investigation of a sturgeon poaching operation resulted in the arrest of six men accused of stealing sturgeon from the Sacramento River in California, the Sacramento Bee reports. The suspects allegedly took white sturgeon, which are highly sought after for their meat and eggs for caviar. The price of caviar has jumped in recent years, leading to an increase of poaching in California and the Pacific Northwest.

This story was produced by National Geographic’s Special Investigations Unit, which focuses on wildlife crime and is made possible by grants from the BAND Foundation and the Woodtiger Fund. Read more stories from the SIU on Wildlife Watch. Send tips, feedback, and story ideas to ngwildlife@ngs.org.

 18 
 on: Today at 05:20 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Rad
Cs Monitor

How to reduce heat-related deaths from climate change

A team from Colombia University has estimated the worst-case scenario for heat-related deaths by 2080 in the Big Apple, but also identified solutions to prevent them.

By Josh Kenworthy, Staff writer June 26, 2016   

Scientists have identified ways to prevent heat-related deaths in New York, which models estimate will rise steeply alongside average summer temperatures in the next 60 years.

A team of scientists from Columbia University generated 33 different models that took into account around 100 years of temperature, population, and mortality data, as well as climate projections. The potential scenarios varied wildly in predictions of the number of heat-related deaths in the Big Apple each year by 2080: anywhere from 167 to 3,331. (For comparison, there were an average of 638 heat-related deaths per year between 2000 and 2006.)

The purpose of the report, however, was not to prophesy doom-and-gloom, but rather to show just how many lives can be saved by adopting preventative measures. And the researchers' recommendations could be applied to other cities as well.

“We know climate change is creating more days of extreme heat, putting more people at risk for death in the coming decades,” first author Elisaveta P. Petkova, project director at the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at Columbia’s Earth Institute, said in a press release. “Our study shows that many of these deaths can be averted by limiting greenhouse gas emissions and pursuing measures to help people adapt to high temperatures.”

The number one mitigating factor in avoiding heat-related deaths is curbing climate change as much as possible, according to the scientists.

According to a New York City Panel on Climate Change (NPCC) report, “middle range of projections” suggest temperatures will rise between 5.3 degrees Fahrenheit and 8.8 degrees by the 2080s. It predicts that the number of 90-100 degree days days will triple by the 2080s.

“This model may be useful to advocates and policymakers as they pursue efforts to prevent the worst effects of climate change,” senior author Patrick Kinney, director of the Climate and Health Program and professor of Environmental Health Sciences at Columbia’s Mailman School of Public Health, said in the release.

The widespread installation of air conditioning has been credited with a reduction in heat-related deaths between 1970 and 2000. The cost of purchasing and running air conditioners, however, can be prohibitive for some urban residents. The researchers suggest that heat warning systems and public cooling centers could help to alleviate some of that strain.

Measures to mitigate the so-called urban heat island effect could also help reduce the number of heat-related deaths, the researchers say. Cities tend to bear the brunt of heat waves, as built up areas have less vegetation to absorb heat energy given off by the sun. New York has already taken some steps to reduce the heat island effect, such as installing reflective roofing and planting trees. These practices are already common in Southern cities accustomed to high temperatures, but could be a useful strategy for urban planners in more northern climes.

 19 
 on: Today at 05:18 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Rad
CS Monitor

Why cities are forming a global alliance to curb climate change

Cities created the largest network yet dedicated to fighting climate change, highlighting the growing importance of cities in spearheading sustainability initiatives.

By Nicole Orttung, Staff June 26, 2016   

Most attention on climate change policy has focused on national governments, but can cities, too, help curb global warming?

That's the goal of the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy, a coalition of more than 7,000 cities spanning six continents.

The group, created by merging the United Nation’s Compact of Mayors and the EU’s Covenant of Mayors, is a first-of-its-kind global initiative of local governments aimed at supporting each other in “setting ambitious climate reduction goals, taking ambitious action to meet those objectives, and measuring their progress publicly and transparently,” according to a statement released by the European Commission on Thursday.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who will co-chair the new Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy along with European Commission Vice President Maroš Šefčovič, called the move “a giant step forward in the work of achieving the goals that nations agreed to in Paris.”

“Cities have increasingly been gathering the confidence of nation-states in demonstrating that not only are they spaces of solutions but spaces of such grand solutions that nation-states can be more ambitious in their commitments,” Shagun Mehrotra, who teaches sustainable development at The New School University and directs the Sustainable Development Solutions Center, tells The Christian Science Monitor.

Cities played a key role in developing the UN’s sustainable development goals, Dr. Mehrotra said, and more than 400 mayors converged on Paris for the climate talks in December where the United States committed to a 26-28 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2025 compared to 2005.

A national version of the international network was also announced earlier this week. The US Conference of Mayors and the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions will partner to encourage public-private cooperation on climate action, forming a group called the Alliance for a Sustainable Future.

“Making cities more livable, walkable, and attractive is something that mayors are very keen on,” Bob Perciasepe, president of the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions, tells The Christian Science Monitor in an interview Thursday. “You see more and more cities moving forward to build the kind of green infrastructure and environment that’s attractive to people and also reducing the global impact.”

Businesses are similarly prioritizing environmentalism, Mr. Perciasepe says, with most large businesses now appointing a chief sustainability officer. “You’ve got a movement going down in these two realms and we’re trying to find a way to bring them together.”

Between 70 percent and 80 percent of the world's wealth resides in cities, so they do have resources to make an impact, according to Mehrota. “For example, New York spends over $50 billion in its annual operating budget. You can do a lot with that,” he says.

But together, cities are much stronger.

“They’re able to bargain for technology and lower costs.... They are able to access technology, political and institutional platforms at the global level, even though they are subnational governments,” says Mehrota.

Sam Adams, former mayor of Portland, Ore., and director of World Resources Institute’s US Climate Initiative, will be in attendance at the US Conference of Mayors in Indianapolis this weekend, the first meeting of the Alliance for a Sustainable Future, and says collaboration provides a great way for mayors to speed up innovation.

“My push to have Portland become the first big city in the United States to be rated the highest platinum category for biking, that was inspired from my participation in these networks. I wanted to be the first, we ended up being the second after Davis, California, which points out the other great part of these networks, which is the friendly competition to the top,” says Mr. Adams.

Adams adds, “In terms of climate action, there’s a heck of a lot riding on the success of individual cities around the world. It adds up to either greater emissions, or it adds up to reducing carbon pollution.

 20 
 on: Today at 05:15 AM 
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CS Monitor

Much like older humans, older monkeys have fewer friends

Monkeys display more selective social behavior as they age, a discovery that scientists say could help us better understand human behavior.

By Gretel Kauffman, Staff June 26, 2016   

Monkeys' social circles tend to grow smaller as they grow older, according to a recent study that researchers say could also shed some light on human behavior.

The study, published in Current Biology, studied the social behavior of more than 100 Barbary macaque monkeys living in an enclosed 50-acre park in southern France. The monkeys ranged in age from 4 to 29, the latter age being the equivalent of about 105 in human years.

Researchers found that monkeys of different ages reacted in different ways when presented with various stimuli, including toys, social interactions such as fighting or grooming one other, and social information such as photos and calls of "friends" and "strangers."

When monkeys reached a reproductive age, interested in toys decreased. And once they reached "retirement age" – around 20 years old – they had fewer social contacts and approached others less frequently.

The surprising thing about this behavior, said Julia Fischer, who studies primate cognition at the German Primate Center in Göttingen, Germany, is that it was not because the younger monkeys chose not to socialize with their elders. Rather, older monkeys were still frequently approached and groomed by their younger friends.

Furthermore, retirement-age monkeys' interest in social interactions didn't appear to decrease; they still responded to photos of other monkeys and hissed at others during fights.

"They are still very much tuned into what’s going on," said Dr. Fisher to the New York Times. "But they don’t want to participate themselves."

If this all sounds familiar, it's because humans tend to exhibit similar behavior patterns as they grow older.

The dominant existing psychological theory to explain this behavior in people is that as we grow aware of the limited time we think we have left to live, we become more picky about how we spend that time. There's no evidence, however, that monkeys have an awareness of death approaching. This suggests that perhaps the pattern actually has biological origins. 

"Our behaviors that seem very much the result of our deliberation and choice might be more similar to our primate ancestors than we might think," said Alexandra Freund, a developmental psychologist at the University of Zurich who worked on the study, to the Times. "This clearly tells us that we, as humans, are not unique in the way we age socially but that there might be an evolutionary 'deep' root in this pattern."

There are several potential explanations for aging monkeys' social patterns that could also account for human behavior. It's possible that, like humans, older monkeys tend to take fewer risks, making them less socially active. Researchers are currently investigating this theory.

It's also possible, Dr. Fischer said, that both humans and monkeys simply grow too tired to deal with relationships that are ambivalent or negative.

Going forward, the research could help scientists learn more about the biology behind human social behavior, study author Laura Almeling told Medical Daily.

"As we are living in an 'aging society' there is substantial interest in the consequences of aging, with a particular focus on age-associated diseases," Dr. Almeling said. "However, we also need to study the biological foundations of 'normal' aging processes to obtain a better understanding of the roots of the desires and preferences of aging humans."

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