Axolotl (Ambystoma mexicanum). By Lapis2380 | Shutterstock.com

Amphibious adaptations: the wonderful world of salamanders

On the rare occasion that the mainstream media talk about amphibians, the coverage tends to take on a sensationalist tone. Even when the aim of a news story is to highlight an important issue like the threat of extinction, the headline invariably seeks to shock: “World’s weirdest amphibians”. Obviously, some...
A cute koala. By Yatra | Shutterstock.com

What are the longest sleeping mammals?

You've probably heard that adult humans should sleep an average of 8 hours a night to properly fulfil their (or "our") daily personal, professional and academic obligations. Getting enough rest is extremely important, as it brings a lot of physiological (and adaptive) benefits and advantages. But resting is not...
Autumn landscape. By Marina Zezelina | Shutterstock.com

Shades of autumn: how and why leaves change colour

North of the equator, in temperate regions, autumn is paving the way for winter. Deciduous trees, such as oak, ash and maple, decorate our towns and cities with every shade of yellow, orange and red. The life-cycle of leaves is so integral to our image of autumn, but have...
A herd of Eland or Taurotragus Oryx. By Sutirta Budiman

Population dynamics models: Levins and the source-sink theory

For decades, ecologists and geneticists have tried to understand the population dynamics of different animal species, establishing models to understand the changes that occur in the number of individuals of a population, the composition of populations and the causes of such variations. Nature isn't homogeneous or stable, so it's...
Ostrich, emu, cassowary, rhea, kiwi and tinamou. Shutterstock.com

What’s an ecological niche? Different species and their place within nature

Sometimes distinct species, in different parts of the world, share very similar functions within the ecosystems they inhabit. This is especially true among species belonging to the same genus, such as pipits. There are 44 different species of pipit. They are around 20 cm in size and can be found...
Owls Are The Order Strigiformes Constituting 200 Extant Bird Of Prey Species Most Are Solitary And Nocturnal. By Ammit Jack | Shutterstock.com

A bird’s-eye view: why sight is their most developed sense

In nature, and especially in the animal kingdom, survival is the priority for the individuals of most species. Their survival will largely depend on the mechanisms they have to perform their vital functions effectively, as well as on how they adapt to the environments and ecosystems they inhabit. They...
Male hiker looking through binoculars in forest. By Yuriy Seleznev | Shutterstock.com

Eyes to the skies: a beginner’s guide to birdwatching

Birdwatching, whether from the kitchen window or out in the field, is enjoyed by millions of people around the world. But what is it about watching birds in the wild that we find so interesting? For some it’s just that, a good excuse to go out into the wild. For others,...
Polar Bear (Ursus maritimus). By Vaclav Sebek | Shutterstock.com

Are species larger in cold environments? The principles of Bergmann’s rule

Nature isn't inert or homogeneous; thousands of processes and phenomena take place in it every second, leading to significant environmental changes. Nature is a living medium, with different habitats in which countless physical, chemical and, of course, biological interactions happen on a daily basis, creating an environment full of nuances...
DNA research molecule. 3D illustration. Analysis of structure human genome. By Yurchanka Siarhei | Shutterstock.com

Genetics, genomics and their role in wildlife conservation

Within genetics there are many areas of research, each impacting on our lives in a different way. From the genetic engineering of animals and plants, to gene therapy in medical treatment, and the use of DNA in genetic profiling. Agriculture, medicine and security are just some of the areas of...
Giant panda climbing tree. By Hung Chung Chih | Shutterstock.com

Flagship species: Advantages and disadvantages of their management

According to the latest studies and censuses drawn up by different authors, there are approximately 9 million species on planet Earth, including animals (by far, the most abundant group), fungi, plants, protozoa and algae. However, as little as 25% of them are known to mankind, which means that only 2...
San Miguel Island Fox. By Dominic Laniewicz | Shutterstock.com

Do all animals face the same extinction risk?

As mentioned in the article "The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: conservation status of species", published recently in this blog, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has updated the number of species included in the Red List. It now consists of a total of almost...
Iberian lynx. By omas Calle Boyero | Shutterstock.com

The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: conservation status of species

A few weeks ago, the Red List of Threatened Species was updated by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). This list reveals the conservation status of the different animal and plant species worldwide, classifying them into different protection and conservation categories. IUCN is a membership union, composed by...
Central Bornean orangutan ( Pongo pygmaeus wurmbii ) in natural habitat. Tropical Rainforest of Borneo. Indonesia. By Sergey Uryadnikov | Shutterstock.com

Edge effects and habitat fragmentation: the main causes of species extinction

The science of conservation biology was developed during the seventies and eighties, when society started to become aware of the importance of addressing the ongoing biodiversity crisis. The multidisciplinary basis of conservation biology has led to new subdisciplines, such as a theoretical branch and a subdiscipline to find solutions...
Urban Gardening, Malacca, Malaysia. By Jakob Fischer | Shutterstock.com

Living cities: 4 practical ways you can help local wildlife

Today, 55% of the world’s population lives in urban areas and, by 2050, this is expected to reach 68%. Urbanisation can bring great benefits, such as access to education, health care, employment and social services. However, it could also cause a disconnect between ‘our world’ and the natural world. Some...
Wolf tracks (footprint) in the frozen snow. By Maksymus | Shutterstock.com

Field guide: identifying animal footprints, traces and signs

Habitat loss or destruction is a direct consequence of our current economic and social system, as well as one of the greatest threats to animal species and to wildlife sustainability. Biodiversity reduction and the extinction of species are some of the devastating effects of this degradation, which is at...