Archive for July, 2008

New disorder threatens bee population

Friday, July 11th, 2008

There is growing concern worldwide regarding a new threat to the bee population. The Guardian recently reported a dramatic decline in bee numbers in the USA. The phenomenon is called Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), in which whole populations of hives just ‘disappear’. The report reflects on various causes ranging from climate change to stress. In the US thousands of swarms are trucked coast-to-coast on tour, pollinating fruit crops such as California’s massive almond industry. The syndrome is also affecting colonies in Europe and an international research effort is under way, based in Switzerland, aimed at solving the mystery. Meanwhile in Spain populations are dropping dramatically. A Spanish blog, Miscelánea de Noticias Apícolas de España, gives regular up to date information.

Slow population expansion of the Cantabrian brown bear

Wednesday, July 9th, 2008

The latest figures for female Cantabrian brown bears with cubs of the year (COY’s) have just been released giving 21 for 2007. This number has tripled since 1989. The 21 females have 39 cubs between them, growth being more obvious in the western population with 18 females having 34 cubs while in the east, 5 cubs were born to 3 females. Litter-size average has also increased, now standing at 2 cubs per female in the west and 1.8 in the east. According to José Félix García Gaona, the head of the Asturian Countryside and Biodiversity governmental department, these figures call for moderate optimism and he stresses the importance of the continued collaboration of the separate autonomous communities involved in the Plan for the Recuperation of the Cantabrian brown bear. Representing the Cantabrian government, Antonio Lucio said that the eastern population is still fragile although the presence of bears in out of the ordinary areas (such as the valleys of Liébana) is a clear indicator that the population’s decline has been stopped. The president of the Fundación Oso Pardo, Guillermo Palomero, urges caution however because even though the census is the highest for two decades, the Cantabrian brown bear is still a species threatened with extinction yet to overcome obstacles such as poison, traps and infant mortality.

News from

More on Spain’s bears on the forum

Monk seal population rises

Wednesday, July 2nd, 2008

Two weeks ago we heard the news of the appearance of a monk seal in the Isla del Toro, Mallorca. This possibly isolated event coincides with some good news of the seal’s populations slow but hopeful recovery. The Cabo Blanco colony (between Western Sahara and Mauritania) saw the birth last year of 46 pups, practically the same as in 2006, and doubling those of previous years. The colony is now made up of 180 individuals of which some 50 are breeding females, demonstrating that it is finally beginning to recover from the mass epidemic caused by a toxic seaweed of the late 1990s which killed off 75% of the colony.

Elsewhere, in 2007 in Greece 28 pups were born, and in the Desertas Islands (Madeira), there are just three breeding females. The Algerian and Moroccan coasts support no more than 15 individuals. Source: La Crónica Verde

Distribution of monk seals. From The Monachus Guardian.

Figures of a world population of 500 Mediterranean monk seals are being quoted in the press though I can find no “official” figure. The Monachus Guardian states

“Thousands of islands, inaccessible coastlines, and a species that shies away from human contact have all conspired to make distribution and abundance assessments for the Mediterranean monk seal (Monachus monachus) an extraordinarily inexact science. Conventional wisdom, however, suggests that fewer than 600 individuals survive, making the Mediterranean monk seal Europe’s most endangered marine mammal