Latest imported feed items on UniGuide <![CDATA[Human impact on wildlife to blame for spread of viruses, says study]]> 2020-04-07T23:01:00Z Increased contact with animals likely cause of outbreaks such as Covid-19, say experts, as conservationists call for global ban on wildlife markets

Hunting, farming and the global move of people to cities has led to massive declines in biodiversity and increased the risk of dangerous viruses like Covid-19 spilling over from animals to humans, a major study has concluded.

In a paper that suggests the underlying cause of the present pandemic is likely to be increased human contact with wildlife, scientists from Australia and the US traced which animals were most likely to share pathogens with humans.

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<![CDATA[Seal the deal: amorous mammals forced to contend with cruise ships]]> 2020-04-07T23:01:00Z Harbour seals struggle to match volume of passing ships when trying to attract a mate

Cruise ships are drowning out the roars of seals that are important for bagging a mate, researchers have found in the latest study to reveal the consequences of human activity on wildlife.

Ships are known to produce low-frequency sounds which can overlap with calls made by marine creatures. But now researchers studying harbour seals say such noise could be taking its toll.

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<![CDATA[Birdwatch: skylark’s song lifts my spirits in these darkened times]]> 2020-04-07T20:30:05Z On my daily walk I can enjoy hearing a bird whose song is the definitive sound of the countryside

Our world is cribbed, confined and bound in as never before. Yet amid all the fear and horror, there is one silver lining, as we reconnect with nature on our doorstep. My Somerset garden is awash with birdsong: chiffchaffs, wrens, robins and a new arrival, the blackcap, all competing to see who can shout the loudest as spring gathers pace. Overhead, buzzards soar and ravens tumble, as delighted as I am to herald the new season.

Related: Wildflower planting on farms boosts birds, from skylarks to starlings

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<![CDATA[Snow white coral of once vibrant Great Barrier Reef a sign urgent action must be taken]]> 2020-04-07T17:30:02Z Plan for net-zero emissions combined with a new diplomatic effort is Australia’s best chance at saving reef for future generations

The news is overwhelming and exhausting in a way it has rarely been in most of our lifetimes, but if you have five minutes of energy left this is worth your attention. That it hasn’t been reported in most of Australia’s major news outlets doesn’t make that any less the case.

Across nine days last month, Prof Terry Hughes from James Cook University travelled the length of the Great Barrier Reef in a small plane to survey the health of more than 1,000 individual sites. He was joined by an observer from the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, a government agency.

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<![CDATA[Air pollution linked to far higher Covid-19 death rates, study finds]]> 2020-04-07T16:16:28Z Dirty air increases risk of respiratory problems that can be fatal for coronavirus patients

Air pollution is linked to significantly higher rates of death in people with Covid-19, according to new analysis.

The work shows that even a tiny, single-unit increase in particle pollution levels in the years before the pandemic is associated with a 15% increase in the death rate. The research, done in the US, calculates that slightly cleaner air in Manhattan in the past could have saved hundreds of lives.

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<![CDATA[Volcanic activity now believed to have triggered Triassic climate change]]> 2020-04-07T15:21:49Z Research offers ‘a sobering warning’ on the impact of today’s climate emergency

Volcanic eruptions played an important and direct role in triggering the extreme climate that killed off swathes of life at the end of the Triassic period 201m years ago, researchers have found.

Experts say they have discovered bubbles of carbon dioxide trapped in volcanic rocks dating to the end of the Triassic, backing up the theory that such activity contributed to the greenhouse climate that is believed to have been behind the mass extinction.

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<![CDATA[Record-size hole opens in ozone layer above the Arctic]]> 2020-04-07T15:20:30Z Rare hole is result of low temperatures in atmosphere and is expected to disappear

A rare hole has opened up in the ozone layer above the Arctic, in what scientists say is the result of unusually low temperatures in the atmosphere above the north pole.

The hole, which has been tracked from space and the ground over the past few days, has reached record dimensions, but is not expected to pose any danger to humans unless it moves further south. If it extends further south over populated areas, such as southern Greenland, people would be at increased risk of sunburn. However, on current trends the hole is expected to disappear altogether in a few weeks.

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<![CDATA[In the mood for love: Hong Kong’s middle-aged pandas rediscover their mojo]]> 2020-04-07T14:22:29Z Captive animals mate for first time in 10 years as coronavirus keeps hordes of visitors away

A middle-aged couple of giant pandas in a Hong Kong theme park have mated for the first time in more than 10 years, after finally enjoying a period of privacy thanks to the coronavirus lockdown.

Ying Ying and Le Le have been at Ocean Park since 2007 but, despite the encouragement of zookeepers, they had shown little inclination to have sex while daily hordes of visitors were watching their every move.

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<![CDATA[Calls to close US national parks as rise in visitors raises coronavirus fears]]> 2020-04-07T13:54:29Z More than half the National Park Service’s unit remain open but local police and health officials are urging people to stay away

As mild temperatures and spring blooms emerged in southern Utah this past weekend, so did the tourists. At Capitol Reef national park, the trailhead parking lot was full of cars bearing plates from states such as California, Washington, Colorado and Georgia, all Covid-19 hotspots. The hikers were either oblivious to or ignoring the plea from the local sheriff’s office that outsiders stay away.

“While we would normally welcome visitors to enjoy the beauty of Wayne county, we really don’t want visitors during the Covid-19 pandemic,” stated a 3 April post on the sheriff’s Facebook page. Wayne county, where Capitol Reef is located, has 2,600 residents and little in the way of healthcare services. “If you don’t live here, please don’t come here.”

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<![CDATA[Industrial-sized pig and chicken farming continuing to rise in UK]]> 2020-04-07T13:00:02Z Number of large-scale, intensive farms with upwards of 40,000 birds or 2,000 pigs is increasing, driven by demand for cheap meat

New figures reveal that the number of large industrial-sized pig and chicken farms in the UK continues to rise, with close to 2,000 across the country.

In 2017, the then environment secretary Michael Gove told MPs: “One thing is clear: I do not want to see, and we will not have, US-style farming in this country.” However, the number of industrial-sized pig and poultry units in the UK has risen by 7% from 1,669 in 2017 to 1,786 this year.

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