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Study Suggests Psychiatric Drugs In Water Supply Are Altering Fish Behavior

Anxiety medications flushed down toilets in our pee causing heightened appetite and boldness in fish. Soon the global water supply will be a giant soup of antidepressants. Via the Los Angeles Times:

Pharmaceuticals may be affecting the behavior of wild fish as [the drugs] filters out of our bodies, through our toilets and into treated wastewater that is released into natural water sources, according to a new study.

The findings, which examined the effect of trace levels of the anti-anxiety medication oxazepam on wild European perch, have implications for the survival rates of fish and the delicate food web in aquatic ecosystems.

Scientists have known for years that such “micropollutants” end up in natural waterways like streams and rivers after being flushed through human systems into wastewater. But current research hasn’t really looked at whether psychotherapeutic drugs can affect the behavior of aquatic creatures.

The researchers’ findings could well reflect reality in waters worldwide: Their low concentrations in the lab were roughly equivalent to levels found in wild fish in the River Fyris in Sweden.

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Kentucky Town Terrorized By Swarm Of Millions Of Birds

Will global warming do us in by provoking multitudes of agitated, disease-laden birds to descend upon us? Via the Bangor Daily News:

Millions of birds have descended on a small Kentucky city this winter, fouling the landscape, scaring pets and raising the risk for disease in a real-life version of Alfred Hitchcock’s horror film, “The Birds.”

The blackbirds blacken the sky of Hopkinsville, Kentucky, before roosting at dusk, turn the landscape white with bird poop, and the disease they carry can kill a dog and sicken humans.

David Chiles, president of the Little River Audubon Society, said the migratory flocks’ roosting in the city rather than flying further south is tied to climate warming.

The birds also pose a serious health hazard because their droppings can carry a fungal disease which can cause lung infections and symptoms similar to pneumonia. It is particularly dangerous for people with compromised immune systems or respiratory ailments.

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The Principles Of Uncivilisation

From the writers and activists network Dark Mountain Project, the manifesto of Uncivilisation, a response to the alleged coming unraveling of modern society:

We reject the faith which holds that the converging crises of our times can be reduced to a set of ‘problems’ in need of technological or political ‘solutions’.

We believe that the roots of these crises lie in the stories we have been telling ourselves. We intend to challenge the stories which underpin our civilisation: the myth of progress, the myth of human centrality, and the myth of our separation from ‘nature’. These myths are more dangerous for the fact that we have forgotten they are myths.

We will reassert the role of storytelling as more than mere entertainment. It is through stories that we weave reality.

Humans are not the point and purpose of the planet. Our art will begin with the attempt to step outside the human bubble.

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In the Epicenter of a Kill

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Picture: Matt Knoth (CC)

In early June of 2008 I went on a 130 mile canoe trip down a portion of the Wisconsin and Mississippi rivers. I put in at Sauk City, WI, on the Wisconsin river  and ended the journey at the mouth of the Platte River, just before Dubuque, Iowa, on the Mississippi.  I paddled every day for five days and camped every night on white sand beaches. This journey went through some very beautiful and sparsely populated areas, as well as rolling hills and farm country. I saw a lot of wildlife like herons, and hundreds of turtles sunning themselves on logs.  I occasionally saw other boaters, but for the most part I was alone and spoke to no other human beings for days on end.  It was a very surreal experience.

Once, I decided to paddle through the night under the stars. The water was very still as there was little wind that night and no moon, but hundreds of stars were reflected on the river, and those lit my way.… Read the rest

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Brazil To Clone Animals In Danger Of Extinction

After our planet’s climate drastically changes, the wildlife of today will exist in cloned form in tomorrow’s zoos, Inter Press Service reports:

Brazilian scientists are attempting to clone animals in danger of extinction, like the jaguar and maned wolf, although the potential impact on the conservation of these threatened species is still not clear.

The cloning initiative is being undertaken by the Brasilia Zoological Garden in partnership with the Brazilian government’s agricultural research agency, EMBRAPA, and is now in its second phase. “We already have 420 germplasm samples stored in our bank and are going to continue collecting,” [said] EMBRAPA researcher Carlos Frederico Martins.

Eight animals have been chosen, including the maned wolf (Chrysocyon brachyurus), the jaguar (Panthera onca) and the black lion tamarin (Leontopithecus chrysopygus). The bank has also been stocked with germplasm from the bush dog (Speothos venaticus), coati (genus Nasua), collared anteater (Tamandua tetradactyla), gray brocket deer (Mazama gouazoubira) and bison (genus Bison).

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Researchers Discover The Four Personality Types Of Elephants

Animals have distinct personality types, the Telegraph reveals

In a new study of African elephants, researchers have identified four distinct characters that are prevalent with a herd – the leaders, the gentle giants, the playful rogues and the reliable plodders. Each of the types has developed to help the giant mammals survive in their harsh environment and are almost unique in the animal kingdom, according to the scientists.

Professor Lee and her colleague Cynthia Moss studied a herd of elephants in the Amboseli National Park in Kenya known as the EB family – famous for their matriarch Echo before she died in 2009. Using data collected over 38 years of watching this group, the researchers analysed them for 26 types of behaviour and found four personality traits tended to come to the fore.

The strongest personality to emerge was that of the leader. The researchers looked for those elephants that tended to influence the movements and direction of the group.

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Monkey Captured After Two Years Of Eluding Authorities In Urban Florida

The monkey gave the forces of human society a good run for their money, remaining uncaught for two years. Over that time, it had a Facebook page and bit a random woman — in other words, it lived as a typical St. Petersburg resident. Via CBS Tampa:

The wild monkey that was on the lam in St. Petersburg for two years has finally been captured. Authorities say a wildlife official shot the monkey with a tranquilizer dart Wednesday.

The monkey eluded capture for years as it roamed neighborhoods in St. Petersburg. It even has a Facebook page and most recently bit a woman, causing trappers to ramp up their efforts to capture him.

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For Science: Watch Sea Lice Eat a Pig from Inside Out

Via New Scientist:
In order to better understand how human bodies decompose in the ocean, Simon Fraser University forensic scientist Gail Anderson tracked the decomposition of a pig. The pig’s body was caged (to prevent larger predators like sharks from swimming away with it) and then submerged. Time lapse photography documents the pig’s remains as they’re consumed to the bones by sea lice and other small scavengers.

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Pesticide Cocktail Killing Bees

Via Nature.com:

…in a study published in Nature, researchers at Royal Holloway, University of London, in Egham, UK, show that low-level exposure to a combination of two pesticides is more harmful to bumblebee colonies than either pesticide on its own. The results suggest that current methods for regulating pesticides are inadequate because they consider only lethal doses of single pesticides. As ecologist Nigel Raine explains in the video, low doses of pesticides have subtle effects on individual bees and can seriously harm colonies. He hopes that his work will feed into consultations on pesticide regulations that are happening now in Europe.

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