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Britain’s seabird colonies face catastrophe

Bempton Cliffs bird reserve was in fine fettle last week. The last of its population of puffins (Fratercula arctica) had departed for the winter a few weeks earlier, while its thousands of young gannets (Morus bassanus) were still being cared for by their parents on the chalk cliffs of the East Yorkshire nature site. For good measure, kittiwakes (Rissa tridactyla), cormorants (Phalacrocorax carbo) and fulmars (Fulmarus glacialis) were also bathing in the sunshine.

Canada’s wildlife are in trouble

The Living Planet Report Canada, published today, is the most comprehensive synthesis of Canadian wildlife population trends ever conducted. It shows that on average from 1970 to 2014, half of monitored vertebrate wildlife species in the study suffered population declines. Of those, average decline is 83 per cent since 1970. The picture is also worrisome for Canada’s federally protected species. Since 2002, when the Species at Risk Act became law, federally listed at-risk wildlife populations declined by 28 per cent, the report shows.

Pheasant counts decline in North Dakota

R.J. Gross is upland game management biologist for North Dakota Game and Fish, and said a roadside pheasant survey shows that total pheasants (Phasianus colchicus) observed per 100 miles are down 61 percent from last year. Brood observations, meanwhile, were down 63 percent and average brood size was down 19 percent. The survey is based on 279 survey runs made along 103 brood routes across North Dakota.

“Brood data suggests very poor production this spring when compared to 2016, which results in less young birds added to the fall population,” Gross said.

Monarch butterfly may soon be extinct in western North America

The monarch butterfly populations in western North America have declined dramatically and face a greater risk of extinction, a new study shows. Scientists at Washington State University found that the decline in western monarch butterfly populations was significantly more than previously believed and greater than eastern monarchs. “Western monarchs are faring worse than their eastern counterparts,” Cheryl Schultz, an associate professor at Washington State University Vancouver, said in a press release. “In the 1980s, 10 million monarchs spent the winter in coastal California.

Cambodia records 50 percent decline in vulture population in a decade

Cambodia's vultures are facing a high risk of extinction and have seen a 50 percent decline in number since 2003, conservationist groups said in a joint statement on Monday. "Only 121 of the birds were recorded in this year's national census, the lowest number on record since 2003," said the joint statement released by Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), BirdLife International, World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), and Angkor Center for Conservation of Biodiversity. "Recent reviews indicate that poisoning is the major threat to the vulture population in Cambodia," the statement said.

Perplexing decline in the American kestrel population is related to lack of prey

Not so long ago, on a drive down a rural road in Minnesota you’d often see an American kestrel (Falco sparverius) perched on a power line, watching for a dragonfly or small rodent to pass beneath. If you were really lucky, you’d spot this smallest member of the falcon family flapping its wings in its unusual hovering flight as it watched for prey. Such sights are becoming increasingly rare. These handsome little raptors, about the size of a mourning dove, are suffering a long-term and widespread population decline.

Farmland birds are in decline after Bulgaria´s accession to the EU in 2007

Based on monitoring data for the period 2005-2010, we studied the trends in abundance and species richness of common breeding birds in Bulgaria before and after the country joined the EU in 2007. We analysed the trends in birds of farmland, woodland and “other” habitats, and additionally, we tested whether indices of the commonest birds are representative of wider changes in bird populations. At species level (n = 32), significant declines were detected in 11 species (34%), and increases in just two (6%); 19 species (60%) had uncertain trends.

Red-headed woodpeckers are in decline

The red-headed woodpecker (Melanerpes erythrocephalus) was once a very common woodpecker. In the mid-1800s, John James Audubon stated that the red-headed woodpecker was the most common woodpecker in North America. He called them semi-domesticated because they weren’t afraid of people. He stated that they were camp robbers and also a pest. According to the Audubon Society’s Christmas Bird Count data, between the 1950s and the year 2010, the population of red-headed woodpeckers dropped dramatically. Over 80 percent of the population died out in just over 50 years.

Pesticides linked to birth abnormalities in major new study

High exposure to pesticides as a result of living near farmers’ fields appears to increase the risk of giving birth to a baby with “abnormalities” by about 9 per cent, according to new research. Researchers from the University of California, Santa Barbara, compared 500,000 birth records for people born in the San Joaquin Valley between 1997 and 2011 and levels of pesticides used in the area. The average use of pesticides over that period was about 975kg for each 2.6sq km area per year.

Planting of neonicotinoid-coated corn raises honey bee mortality and sets back colony development

Worldwide occurrences of honey bee colony losses have raised concerns about bee health and the sustainability of pollination-dependent crops. While multiple causal factors have been identified, seed coating with insecticides of the neonicotinoid family has been the focus of much discussion and research. Nonetheless, few studies have investigated the impacts of these insecticides under field conditions or in commercial beekeeping operations.