Wild Things: Wildcats, Pigeons and More...
Cleaner wrasse fish, black widow spiders and even bananas made the news recently as part of the latest wildlife research
- By T.A. Frail, Laura Helmuth, Julie Mianecki, Jesse Rhodes and Erin Wayman
- Smithsonian magazine, September 2011
Endangered creatures that live only in the highest mountains of Asia, snow leopards are notoriously difficult to study. But a new survey using camera traps has generated 30 photographs of the elusive cats in 16 locations in the rugged, reportedly peaceful region of northeastern Afghanistan called the Wakhan Corridor. It’s “one of the most remote and isolated mountain landscapes in the world and a place of immense beauty,” say Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) scientists who did the study. Though the total number of snow leopards in the area isn’t known, the population appears to be healthy. Because villagers sometimes kill the cats to protect livestock, the WCS has constructed leopard-proof pens and set up livestock insurance programs.
“Saving threatened species in Afghanistan: snow leopards in the Wakhan Corridor,” Anthony Simms et al., International Journal of Environmental Studies, June 30, 2011
“Flying in a flock comes at a cost in pigeons,” James R. Usherwood et al., Nature, June 22, 2011
“Male black widows court well-fed females more than starved females: silken cues indicate sexual cannibalism risk,” J. Chadwick Johnson et al., Animal Behaviour, August 2011
“Cleaner Wrasses Labroides dimidiatus Are More Cooperative in the Presence of an Audience,” Ana Pinto et al., Current Biology, June 23, 2011
“Multidisciplinary perspectives on banana (Musa spp.) domestication,” Xavier Perrier et al., PNAS, July 12, 2011