The riches of the natural world are not spread evenly across the globe. Some places, such as the tropical Andes in South America, are simply stacked with unique species of plants and animals, many found no place else on Earth. So-called biodiversity “hotspots” are thought to cover just 2.3 percent of the planet’s surface, mostly in the tropics, yet they account for half of all known plant species and 77 percent of land vertebrates.
A conservation group has tracked a migration for the ages, in which a male bar-tailed godwit flew from Alaska to New Zealand without taking a single break.
A new report has found that nearly two-thirds of America’s breeding bird species were moderately to highly vulnerable to the effects of climate change. Continue reading Report Finds Nearly Two-Third of America’s Birds Vulnerable to Extinction From Climate Change
Spring is in the air, and the animal kingdom is on the move. Vernal migrations feature everything from fish and birds to big, shaggy mammals and tiny insects. These journeys are about as diverse as the species themselves, but Andy Davis, a University of Georgia ecologist and editor of the journal Animal Migration, says the mass wildlife movements have one important thing in common. Continue reading Twelve Epic Migratory Journeys Animals Take Every Spring
There’s a rocky island in the South Atlantic Ocean so remote that it is known as Inaccessible Island. No humans and few animals dwell there, but among the creatures that call the island home is the Inaccessible Island rail, the world’s smallest flightless bird still in existence. Since the creature was first described in the 1920s, scientists have wondered how it managed to reach its far-flung habitat. Now, as Sarah Laskow reports for Atlas Obscura, a new study may shed light on the enduring natural mystery.
Sloths’ reputation as lazy, slow and stupid creatures owes much to French naturalist Georges Buffon, who described the tree-dwelling mammal as the “lowest form of existence” back in 1749. Buffon’s assessment has endured for centuries, but much of the criticism directed at sloths is unwarranted. As zoologist Lucy Cooke explains for The Day, the sloth’s sluggish lifestyle is a deliberate survival strategy that has enabled it to maintain a place on Earth for nearly 64 million years. Continue reading Sloths Don’t Just Live in Slow-Mo, They Can Put Their Metabolism On Pause
Birds probably know quantum physics better than many humans—it just comes to them innately. Continue reading Scientists Identify Protein That Could Let Birds See Magnetic Fields