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The small creatures - Insects, Invertebrates and bugs

BorneanTiger Offline

Bad news: ½ a million species of insects and plants, or about 40% at least, are at risk of extinction, warn scientists:

United States Spalea Offline
Wildanimal Lover

Beverly Joubert: " The iridescent, emerald sheen of these hard-working dung beetles is a reminder to pay attention to the smaller species – not only can they make for striking photographic subjects, but without them, precious ecosystems would suffer. These beetles perform a vital service. They spend much of their time collecting dung, as a food source and breeding chamber, and depositing it in the ground. In doing so, they improve the quality of the soil and may also help control fly populations that would otherwise take advantage of an abundance of dung in which to lay their eggs. One animal's waste is another's haven! "

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BorneanTiger Offline
( This post was last modified: 03-02-2020, 11:05 AM by BorneanTiger )

A Himalayan species of the butterfly, the Indian fritillary (Argynnis hyperbius), was found in the wild in Wadi Wurayah National Park, WWNP, in the UAE section of the Hajar Mountains in the Emirate of Fujairah, in January. This latest discovery brings the UAE butterfly total to 58 species. The record may also be a first for Arabia. The Indian fritillary is common in the Himalayan regions of Northern India, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nepal, and it has also been found in southern Iran. Now a small number have made their way to Wadi Wurayah, where Binish Roobas was able to photograph both a male and female of the species.

The butterfly was discovered during a visit to update earlier surveys of plant and insect diversity in Wadi Wurayah, following the exceptional fall and winter rains. Joining Roobas in the field were Gary Feulner, Chairman of the Dubai Natural History Group, Sami Ullah Majeed, WWNP Park Ranger, and Nuri Asmita, a WWNP biologist.

The new species is an opportunistic migrant that probably arrived to take advantage of the favourable conditions created by abundant rainfall from October until January. It is unlikely that they will remain for the UAE summer.

The newly found butterfly shows some similarity to the conspicuous but toxic resident butterfly known as the Plain tiger (Danaus chrysippus). That helps to protect it from predators, but also disguises it from scientific observers. In Wadi Wurayah, it was first seen flying among a group of Plain tigers, where it was difficult to distinguish.

Roobas told the Emirates News Agency, WAM, that, "It might easily have been overlooked in that group, but I noticed a slight difference in its size and colour and a greater difference in the way it flew." Based on his photographs, he could identify the species quickly from his experience with butterflies in South and Southeast Asia.

Roobas found two other new species of butterflies in the UAE in 2018, and he helped to investigate two other new species in 2014. He is a co-author, with Feulner, of an introductory catalogue of UAE spiders, and the two are principal co-authors of a forthcoming book on butterflies of the UAE, scheduled for publication this autumn.

Feulner commented, "A great deal of our current knowledge of the flora and fauna of the UAE comes from observations and investigations by independent amateur naturalists. Their efforts, including exploration, study and publication, should be encouraged, not restricted."

Credit: WAM (Emirates News Agency)

*This image is copyright of its original author

*This image is copyright of its original author

United States _Hard_Robin_ Offline
New Join
( This post was last modified: 04-20-2020, 07:12 AM by Rishi )

Aside from other animals that I find interesting, (mainly mammals such as bears), ants have genuinely always fascinated me. Especially army ants (Eciton Burchellii). 

Unlike other ants, army ants never have a nest. And unlike other army ants such as Dorylus, Eciton are 100% nomadic and the entire colony travels their entire lives. 

*This image is copyright of its original author

Classes formed by two: Soldier (front) Worker (back).

Despite the wide variety of other ant species in South America including bullet ants, leaf cutter ants, fire ants and Argentine ants, army ants are truly the dominant species. They can displace hundreds of thousands of insects and animals from their habitats within a single day.

And form bridges made out of their own bodies to cross borders.

*This image is copyright of its original author

All while being completely blind.

I didn't exactly have an aim for this post, I just thought I would share this information as I found it very interesting.
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BorneanTiger Offline
( This post was last modified: 07-05-2021, 09:58 PM by BorneanTiger )

Nature crisis: 'Insect apocalypse' more complicated than thought

By Matt McGrath
Environment correspondent

23 April 2020

Image copyright GETTY IMAGES

The global health of insect populations is far more complicated than previously thought, new data suggests. Previous research indicated an alarming decline in numbers in all parts of world, with losses of up to 25% per decade. This new study, the largest carried out to date, says the picture is more complex and varied. Land-dwelling insects are definitely declining the authors say, while bugs living in freshwater are increasing.

- Humans 'threaten 1m species with extinction':
- Exploiting nature 'drives outbreaks of new diseases':
- Insect decline may see 'plague of pests':
- Cranes make comeback in Britain's wetlands:

Reports of the rapid and widespread decline of insects globally have caused great worry to scientists:

Image copyright GETTY IMAGES: Mayflies have benefitted from cleaner water legislation

The creatures are among the most abundant and diverse species on the planet and play key roles, from aerating the soil to pollination and recycling of nutrients. Case studies, such as one from nature reserves in western Germany, indicated a dramatic fall, with around a 75% decrease over 27 years:

Many other, similar reports have followed:

But many of these were specific to a region or a species. This new study, the largest on insect change to date, aims to give a more complete understanding of what's really happening to bugs worldwide. Drawing on data from 166 long-term surveys across 1,676 sites, it paints a highly nuanced and variable picture of the state of insect health:

Image copyright GETTY IMAGES: Grasshoppers are one of the species to have suffered significant declines

The compilation indicates that insects like butterflies, ants and grasshoppers are going down by 0.92% per year, which amounts to 9% per decade, lower than many published rates. This is not as bad as previous reports but the authors stress that it is still substantial. "That is extremely serious, over 30 years it means a quarter less insects," said lead author Dr Roel Van Klink, from the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research. "And because it's a mean, there are places where it is much worse than that." Many people have an instinctive perception that insects are decreasing - often informed by the so-called "windscreen phenomenon", where you find fewer dead bugs splattered on cars. The researchers say it's real. "Many insects can fly, and it's those that get smashed by car windshields," said Prof Jonathan Chase, another author from the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research. "Our analysis shows that flying insects have indeed decreased on average."

Image copyright OLIVER THIER: Water-based insects such as common water striders have increased in numbers

"However, the majority of insects are less conspicuous and live out of sight - in the soil, in tree canopies or in the water." The losses were strongest in the US West and Midwest and in Europe, especially in Germany. Trends in Europe have become more negative in recent years, with the biggest declines since 2005. However while many land-based species are declining, the new study shows that insects that live in fresh water, like midges and mayflies, are growing by 1.08% per year. This positive trend was strong in northern Europe, in the western US and since the 1990s in Russia. The researchers believe this is because of legislation that has cleaned up polluted rivers and lakes. However the increase in water based insects will not compensate for land losses. "They are just a fraction of land based insects, not more than 10%," said Dr Van Klink. "The area of freshwater we have on earth is just a small percentage of the total land mass, so the numbers of freshwater insects will never be able to compensate for the terrestrial insects." The scientists say there is no smoking gun on insect declines but they find the destruction of natural habitats due to urbanisation, to be key. This finding about habitat destruction has been echoed in other major pieces of research on biodiversity, including last year's IPBES Global Assessment:

Image copyright GABRIELE RADA: A European orchard bee helping to pollinate some flowers

The overall picture is complex - even in close geographical areas, some insects can be doing well next door to members of the same species who are struggling. Ann Swengel, another author on the paper has spent more than 30 years studying butterflies in pars of the US. "We've seen so much decline, including on many protected sites. But we've also observed some sites where butterflies are continuing to do well," she said. "It takes lots of years and lots of data to understand both the failures and the successes, species by species and site by site." While the findings are complicated the authors believe they offer hope for the future. "We believe that because we see these increases in fresh water insects, that are related to legislation being put in place, it makes us hopeful that if we put in place the right types of legislation for land insects we can also make them recover," said Dr Van Klink. "The nice thing about insects is that most have incredibly large numbers of offspring, so if you change the habitat in the right way we will see them recover really fast."

The study has been published in the journal, Science
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United States Spalea Offline
Wildanimal Lover

Unexpected outcome...

" Mantis flips the game of life on a bewildered lizard "

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United States Spalea Offline
Wildanimal Lover

Daniel Rosengren: " You might be tempted to think that this is some kind of Swallowtail butterfly, but, this is actually a moth called Green-banded Urania. Like the Swallowtail butterflies and unlike most other moths, these moths are active in daytime. The mainly live along rivers in the Amazon rainforest. The larvae feed on the plant Omphalea that is so toxic that few other animals can eat it. Manu National Park, Peru. "

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United States Spalea Offline
Wildanimal Lover

Sasikumar: " Blooming with Grace "

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Malaysia scilover Offline

(08-03-2017, 05:46 AM)genao87 Wrote: what kind of parasite is that??

it is a horsehair worm that has the praying mantis as its definitive host.
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BorneanTiger Offline
( This post was last modified: 07-05-2021, 07:51 PM by BorneanTiger )

Babesiosis: First UK case of deadly tick-borne disease discovered in England:

A rare tick-borne illness has been found in the UK for the first time (Bertrand Guay / AFP via Getty Images)

The UK’s first known case of a potentially deadly tick-borne disease has been confirmed in England. It is caused by a small parasitic arachnid found across China and Europe, known as B. venatorum, which scientists say was first detected in UK ticks in 2013. While the parasite can cause a range of illnesses including Lyme disease, it is notable for causing two rare illnesses in particular — Babesiosis and Tick-borne Encephalitis (TBE).

Two people who live along the south coast have now been hospitalised, with what Public Health England (PHE) says is the first record of a UK-acquired case of babesiosis, and a probable case of TBE, which would be the country’s second. While the perceived risk to the public is “very low”, the government urged people to “be tick aware” and take precautions to reduce the risk of being bitten by ticks. Both patients have been transferred to hospital, where they are receiving appropriate treatment and are expected to make a full recovery, PHE said in a statement.

Babesiosis is caused by a parasite that infects red blood cells, while TBE is a viral infection that affects the central nervous system. Most people with Babesiosis will have either no symptoms or mild symptoms of infection, but people with weakened immune systems can become very ill and present with flu-like symptoms such as fever, chills, muscle ache, fatigue, and jaundice. Around two-thirds of people with TBE infections will have no symptoms, and, for those who develop symptoms, there are often two phases.

The first is associated with flu-like symptoms such as fever, headache and fatigue, which can then progress to a more serious second phase, which involves the central nervous system, which can lead to meningitis, encephalitis and paralysis. With the parasite becoming increasingly common in the UK, thought to be largely a result of growing deer numbers, scientists are carefully monitoring its presence across Britain.

In 2019, researchers found it in a mammalian host for the first time — in sheep in the north of Scotland. A similar parasite, Babesia canis, had previously been found in dogs. This year, PHE has surveyed sites in Devon close to where the person hospitalised with Babesiosis lives, collecting and testing hundreds of ticks. All tested negative for the parasite. PHE also tested deer blood samples from Hampshire in areas near where the person with probable TBE lives and they have shown evidence of likely TBE virus infection, which matches similar results found in 2019.

The risk of Babesiosis or TBE for the general public is very low, but a number of infections can develop following a tick bite, including Lyme disease, and there are things people can do to reduce the risk of being bitten by ticks. PHE said it is important to “be tick aware” and take precautions such as keeping to footpaths and avoiding long grass, wearing appropriate clothing, considering the use of repellents containing Deet, and making it a habit to carry out a “tick check”. If you have been bitten by a tick, it should be removed as soon as possible using fine-tipped tweezers or a tick removal tool. “It is important to emphasise that cases of babesiosis and TBE in England are rare and the risk of being infected remains very low,” said Dr Katherine Russell, consultant in the emerging infections and zoonoses team at PHE. “Lyme disease remains the most common tick-borne infection in England. Ticks are most active between spring and autumn, so it is sensible to take some precautions to avoid being bitten when enjoying the outdoors. “Seek medical advice if you start to feel unwell after a tick bite.”

Additional reporting by PA.
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United States Spalea Offline
Wildanimal Lover

" All things found out in the natural world; the big and the small, play some sort of role in the sustainability of the environment.
These little critters, dung beetles, play one of the most important roles when it comes to the natural and agricultural ecosystem.
The majority of the species use the faecal material of various animals for food and to provide brood balls for the larvae, which live in chambers or burrows in the ground.
In doing this, dung beetles aerate and mix the soil by burrowing, and increase the organic matter content of the soil by burying dung.
These changes improve the water holding capacity and nutrient availability of the soil, with associated benefits to plants.
Also by burying dung, they provide an important food source for decomposers, and reduce resources for the larvae of economic insect pests such as those annoying bush flies.
Quite incredible to think that such a tiny creature holds such a huge responsibility. "

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United States Spalea Offline
Wildanimal Lover

Daniel Rosengren: " "I mostly use my right arm when playing tennis"

In many crab species, males have one huge claw and one small claw. The huge one is used for defence, to intimidate and fight other males and to impress females. However, such a big claw is very impractical for feeding which instead is the job of the smaller claw.
This individual has lost its left claw entirely. This is actually no big deal, the next time it moults (crawls out of its exoskeleton to enable it to grow larger) it will regenerate the missing claw.
Photographed on Mafia Island, Tanzania. "

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cheetah Offline
( This post was last modified: 09-30-2020, 07:03 PM by Rishi )

The smallest animal in the world is kikiki huna which is a fairy fly wasp.
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BorneanTiger Offline

Mushroom Growing Out of 50-Million-Year-Old Fossilized Ant Reveals New Species of Fungal Parasite:

By Oregon State University, June 26, 2021

Oregon State University research has identified the oldest known specimen of a fungus parasitizing an ant, and the fossil also represents a new fungal genus and species.

“It’s a mushroom growing out of a carpenter ant,” said OSU’s George Poinar Jr., an international expert in using plant and animal life forms preserved in amber to learn about the biology and ecology of the distant past.

A mushroom is the reproductive structure of many fungi, including the ones you find growing in your yard, and Poinar and a collaborator in France named their discovery Allocordyceps baltica. They found the new type of Ascomycota fungi in an ant preserved in 50-million-year-old amber from Europe’s Baltic region.

“Ants are hosts to a number of intriguing parasites, some of which modify the insects’ behavior to benefit the parasites’ development and dispersion,” said Poinar, who has a courtesy appointment in the OSU College of Science. “Ants of the tribe Camponotini, commonly known as carpenter ants, seem especially susceptible to fungal pathogens of the genus Ophiocordyceps, including one species that compels infected ants to bite into various erect plant parts just before they die.”

Doing so, he explains, puts the ants in a favourable position for allowing fungal spores to be released from cup-shaped ascomata – the fungi’s fruiting body –protruding from the ants’ head and neck. Carpenter ants usually make their nests in trees, rotting logs and stumps.

The new fungal genus and species shares certain features with Ophiocordyceps but also displays several developmental stages not previously reported, Poinar said. To name the genus, placed in the order Hypocreales, Poinar and fellow researcher Yves-Marie Maltier combined the Greek word for new – alloios – with the name of known genus Cordyceps.

“We can see a large, orange, cup-shaped ascoma with developing perithecia – flask-shaped structures that let the spores out – emerging from the rectum of the ant,” Poinar said. “The vegetative part of the fungus is coming out of the abdomen and the base of the neck. We see freestanding fungal bodies also bearing what look like perithecia, and in addition we see what look like the sacs where spores develop. All of the stages, those attached to the ant and the freestanding ones, are of the same species.”

The fungus could not be placed in the known ant-infecting genus Ophiocordyceps because ascomata in those species usually come out the neck or head of an ant, Poinar said, and not the rectum.

“There is no doubt that Allocordyceps represents a fungal infection of a Camponotus ant,” he said. “This is the first fossil record of a member of the Hypocreales order emerging from the body of an ant. And as the earliest fossil record of fungal parasitism of ants, it can be used in future studies as a reference point regarding the origin of the fungus-ant association.”

Reference: “Allocordyceps baltica gen. et sp. nov. (Hypocreales: Clavicipitaceae), an ancient fungal parasite of an ant in Baltic amber” by George Poinar and Yves-Marie Maltier, 5 June 2021, Fungal Biology. DOI: 10.1016/j.funbio.2021.06.002

Oregon State University research has identified the oldest known specimen of a fungus parasitizing an ant, and the fossil also represents a new fungal genus and species. Credit: George Poinar Jr., OSU:

A mushroom is the reproductive structure of many fungi, including the ones you find growing in your yard, and OSU’s George Poinar Jr. and a collaborator in France named their discovery Allocordyceps baltica. They found the new type of Ascomycota fungi in an ant preserved in 50-million-year-old amber from Europe’s Baltic region. Credit: George Poinar Jr., OSU:

The mushroom is coming out of the ant’s rectum, and vegetative part of the fungus is emerging from its abdomen and neck. Credit: George Poinar Jr., OSU:
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BorneanTiger Offline

Purging Bad Mutations: Males Help Keep Populations Genetically Healthy:

By Uppsala University, June 26, 2021

A mating pair of Callosobruchus maculatus attempting to disengage (female left, male right). Credit: Mareike Koppik

A few males are enough to fertilize all the females. The number of males, therefore, has little bearing on a population’s growth. However, they are important for purging bad mutations from the population. This is shown by a new Uppsala University study providing in-depth knowledge of the possible long-term genetic consequences of sexual selection. The results are published in the scientific journal Evolution Letters.

The study supports the theory that in many animal species selection acting on males can impose the fortuitous benefit to the population of causing offspring to inherit healthy genes. Stiff competition among males results in selective elimination of individuals with many deleterious mutations, preventing them from passing on said mutations. This may exert positive long-term effects on a sexually reproducing population’s growth and persistence.

“When deleterious mutations are purged from a population through rigorous selection in males, resulting in fewer males reproducing, the process can take place with little or no effect on population growth. This is because relatively few males suffice to fertilize all the females in a population, hence, whether those females are fertilized by few males or many males makes little or no difference to the number of offspring those females can produce, especially in species where the male doesn’t look after its own offspring. By contrast, such rigorous selection in females would result in fewer females reproducing, hence fewer offspring produced, which could lead to a massive population decline or even extinction,” says Karl Grieshop, evolutionary biologist at Canada’s University of Toronto and the 
study’s lead author.

A Callosobruchus maculatus female (right) rejecting a male (left) mating attempt. Credit: Mareike Koppik

The researchers used 16 genetic strains of seed beetle (Callosobruchus maculatus) to investigate how the inferred number of deleterious mutations in each affected the reproductive ability (fitness) of females and males. Through intensive inbreeding of strains followed by crosses among them, it was possible to quantify the cumulative effects of each strain’s unique set of mutations. By comparing the inbred strains to the crosses among them, the scientists were able to see that these mutations harmed both females and males nearly equally. However, when looking only at the crosses among strains, which is the more genetically variable setting that is more relevant to how selection would act in nature, these mutational effects were only manifest in male fitness. In the females, the deleterious effects of the mutations they carried were not detectable in this more genetically variable background, and would therefore not be purged effectively via female-specific selection in nature.

“This indicates that although these mutations do have a detrimental effect on females’ reproduction, they are more effectively removed from the population by selection acting on male carriers than female carriers. Previous research from our group and others has succeeded in showing this effect by artificially inducing mutations, but this is the first direct evidence that it ensues for naturally occurring variants of genes,” Grieshop says.

In the researchers’ view, their study sheds new light on the old question of why so many multicellular organisms use sexual reproduction.

“Production of males causes a decrease in the reproductive capacity of a species, since males themselves contribute less than females to the production of offspring. The question, then, is why a species evolves to reproduce sexually, instead of just producing females through asexual reproduction. Our study shows that production of males, which may engage in intense competition for the chance to mate, enables faster purging of deleterious mutations from the population, which could thereby enable a healthier set of genes and higher reproductive capacity relative to asexual reproduction,” says David Berger, researcher and team leader at Uppsala University’s Department of Ecology and Genetics.

Reference: “Selection in males purges the mutation load on female fitness” by Karl Grieshop, Paul L. Maurizio, Göran Arnqvist and David Berger, 26 June 2021, Evolution Letters. DOI: 10.1002/evl3.239

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