Early morning flyovers produce a 3D map of New York City’s environment, scientists analyze lizard competition in the Bahamas, Slate reviews the ecological cost of large scale illegal drug production and golden lion tamarins paint for an auction to fund National Zoo research. Here is the latest news in ecology for the first week in May.
Respecting animal privacy: In a recent Journal of Media and Cultural Studies article, researchers argue that animals’ rights are being violated by documentary filmmakers. In an example from the BBC wildlife documentary series Nature’s Great Events, the authors claim the lengths the filmmakers took to track narwhals under the Arctic ice displayed a violation of animal privacy (see above video). Read more at “Are Wildlife Documentaries an Invasion of Privacy?”
Mapping New York: As part of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s broader environmental agenda PlaNYC, planes equipped with lasers have been making early morning flybys to map the structures, elevations and shaded areas of New York City. The goal is to use the map to pinpoint the best locations for solar panels, areas prone to flooding and neighborhoods in need of trees to mitigate the effects of global climate change. Read more at “With Flyovers, a Solar Map of New York.”
Lizard competition: According to a NewScientist article, “Wrapping entire islands in the Bahamas with netting, introducing snakes to two other islands and measuring the fitness of hundreds of lizards using treadmills: one of the most ambitious ecological field experiments ever conducted has resolved a long-standing question about the evolution of lizards.” Read more at “Bahamas islands were giant labs for lizard experiment.”
War on drugs: Slate tackles the U.S.’s “War on Drugs” topic from a completely different angle: Analyzing the environmental damage caused by large scale illegal drug production. For example, it cites an estimated “2.4 million hectares of rainforest have been cleared by coca growers in the South American Andes over the last 20 years.” Read more at “The Greenest High.”
Rewilding America: In nature reserves like Oostvaardersplassen in Amsterdam, scientists are advocating the reintroduction of keystone species in hope of restoring pre-European-settlement ecosystems. Researchers discuss the potential impacts “rewilding” could have in the U.S. and around the world. Read more at “Elephants Roaming America? A Big Idea for Rebooting Nature.”
Also, U.S. honeybee hives take another dive during the winter, toxicologists assess the future of the Dead Zone, scientists describe how whales evolved from the small river animal Indohyus, zoologists determine the American lion is actually a jaguar and art by humans for conservation and art by animals for National Zoo research.