Tag Archive | animal endangerment

Frogs’ immune systems weakened by chemicals, study finds

Frogs are exposed to flame retardants through dirt, plants and insects they eat.

Young frogs exposed to flame retardants have weakened immune systems, which could leave them more susceptible to diseases that are ravaging amphibians worldwide.

new laboratory experiment is the first to link flame retardants to immune system problems in frogs, and adds to evidence that pollutants may contribute to global declines of their populations.

Tadpoles of northern leopard frogs were exposed to polybrominated diphenyl ethers in their food from the time they could swim until they turned into frogs. Then scientists injected the young frogs with a foreign protein and found that they produced up to 92 percent fewer antibodies than non-exposed frogs.

“Making antibodies to get rid of pathogens is vital to frogs’ ability to fend off disease,” said Tawnya Cary, a postdoctoral scholar at the Institute for Biology Education at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and lead author of the study.

Nearly one-third of the world’s amphibians – more than 1,800 species of frogs, toads, salamanders and newts – are threatened with extinction or already extinct. Chytrid fungus is to blame for devastating many populations, although other threats include habitat destruction, UV radiation and parasites.

One theory for the spread of the deadly fungus is that “pollutants alter immune function of the animals, and then they’re not able to fend off disease pathogens properly,” Cary said.

The period when tadpoles are turning into frogs – called metamorphosis – is a “very vulnerable time,” said Louise Rollins-Smith, an associate professor of pathology, microbiology and immunology at Vanderbilt University who did not participate in the study.

Read the full story here.

Keep Big Oil out of Canadian Parks

A law was just passed that gives oil, gas and mining companies the power to open up BC’s provincial parks for industrial activity.

A law was just passed that gives oil, gas and mining companies the power to open up BC’s provincial parks for industrial activity. Resource companies will now be able to drill exploratory wells, build roads and dig giant test pits, all in the name of pipeline and transmission line “research”.

Unless we act now to repeal this law, some of the most beautiful parks in Canada could be opened up to industrial development. This could set a dangerous national precedent as oil, gas and mining companies scramble to extract as many fossil fuel resources as possible from deep below the soil. But if we add our voices to the thousands of letters that the BC Ministry of Environment has already received, they will be forced to respond.

Take action now to keep Big Oil out of our parks.

Our provincial parks are legally held in trust for the inspiration, use and enjoyment of the public. But now, some of our most pristine and beloved landscapes in the country are in real danger. Leaked documents show that the BC government is already considering redrawing the boundaries of 30 parks to accommodate destructive new gas and oil pipelines. And now the new Parks Amendment Act could open up these beautiful landscapes for industrial activity – including exploratory wells 75 metres deep and sample pits 250 metres deep.

Read the full story here.

Galveston Oil Spill Threatening Crucial Bird Refuge

An oil containment boom cuts across a sandbar covered with birds on Pelican Island near Galveston, Texas.

A barge that spilled 168,000 gallons (635,000 liters) of oil Saturday into Galveston Bay is threatening a refuge that’s crucial habitat for thousands of birds, experts say.

The spill occurred when the barge collided with a ship in the Houston Ship Channel near Texas City, on the western coast of Galveston Bay.

The area is about 8 miles (13 kilometers) from the Bolivar Peninsula, which is home to the Bolivar Flats Shorebird Sanctuary, a preserved area of marshy mudflats that’s home to a variety of geese, ducks, herons, and other waterbirds.

The sanctuary has been designated by bird-advocacy organizations as a Globally Significant Important Bird Area and is part of the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network.

The government’s cleanup efforts began immediately, with 24 response vessels working to skim the oil and to stop the leak from the damaged barge, which was carrying more than 900,000 gallons (3.4 million liters) of oil.

About 69,000 feet (21,000 meters) of oil-absorbing boom have been placed around the site of the spill and along sensitive shorelines, according to the Coast Guard.

At least 50 oiled birds have been discovered so far, though the number will likely be much higher as rescuers expand their search, said Richard Gibbons, conservation director of Houston Audubon.

Read the full story here.