“We don’t usually think of herbivores as keystone species. That’s a moniker we usually apply to apex predators, who can keep entire ecosystems in check and aren’t themselves subject to predation. But given their size, mature “megaherbivores” like white rhinos aren’t usually subject to predation either. If they can survive to adulthood, the main pressure on the size of their population, like for apex predators, is simply the availability of food. That allows them to exert disproportionate control over their environments, just as lions or wolves. According to new research published in the Journal of Ecology, Africa’s white rhinos (Ceratotherium simum) could be thought of as apex consumers.”
“Calico cats, with their funky mix of orange, black and white fur, could one day help humans to lose weight.
Couch potato kitties hardly seem suited to the task, but the connection comes from their unique chromosome structure, according to research presented today at the 58th Annual Biophysical Society Meeting in San Francisco.
Elizabeth Smith of the University of California San Francisco and her colleagues explain that calico cats have an orange fur color gene on one of their X chromosomes and a black fur color gene on the other, so that the random silencing of one of the X’s in each cell creates their distinctive patchwork coats.”
Love is in the Air…And it Smells like Striped Skunks
"Most people associate February with the scent of roses, but there is another scent that seems to be everywhere this time of year, too. Striped skunks (Mephitis mephitis) around the Bay Area are on edge due to breeding season, using their foul-smelling spray to communicate to each other and protect themselves as they wander looking for mates.”
Parents With Noisy Babies Shouldn’t Read This. They’ll Be Too Jealous
“Fawns born in April stay quiet till June.
"The technique works," writes Craig. Researchers can see them across a meadow, when the mothers are nursing, but once the baby goes back down to the ground, it vanishes."I’ve almost stepped on them without realizing they were there," Stacey told me."
Learn more from Robert Krulwich at npr: http://goo.gl/z32poJ
Dan Tichenor, Houndsman for Conservation
In order to track wild mountain lions, the Santa Cruz Puma Project must first find the big cats. Dan Tichenor, a volunteer from California Houndsmen for Conservation, uses his specially trained hounds and GPS technology to track and tree wild pumas for UC Santa Cruz researchers.