Sunday, March 04, 2007

Frogs and Bees are the Canaries in our Coal Mine


They're dying, and no one knows why. Global warming? Pollution? The cumulative effects of the 500 new chemicals which are introduced into our environment every year? Whatever the answer, it's bad news for the planet.

Marin County Coastal Post Online: The Frogs Are Dying

ATLANTA - Ponds and swamps are becoming eerily silent. The familiar melody of ribbits, croaks and chirps is disappearing as a mysterious killer fungus wipes out frog populations around the globe, a phenomenon likened to the extinction of dinosaurs.

Scientists from around the world are meeting Thursday and Friday in Atlanta to organize a worldwide effort to stem the deaths by asking zoos, aquariums and botanical gardens to take in threatened frogs until the fungus can be stopped.

The aim of the group called Amphibian Ark is to prevent the world's more than 6,000 species of frogs, salamanders and wormlike Sicilians from disappearing. Scientists estimate up to 170 species of frogs have become extinct in the past decade from the fungus and other causes, and an additional 1,900 species are threatened.

NYTimes (Feb. 27): Honeybees Vanish, Leaving Keepers in Peril

[B]ee losses are ranging from 30 to 60 percent on the West Coast, with some beekeepers on the East Coast and in Texas reporting losses of more than 70 percent; beekeepers consider a loss of up to 20 percent in the offseason to be normal.
NYTimes (Feb. 12): Mystery Disease Is Threat to Bee Colonies

A mysterious illness is killing tens of thousands of honeybee colonies across the country, threatening honey production, the livelihood of beekeepers and possibly crops that need bees for pollination.

Researchers are scrambling to find the cause of the ailment, called colony collapse disorder.

Reports of unusual colony deaths have come from at least 22 states. Some commercial beekeepers have reported losing more than 50 percent of their bees.

Bradenton (FL) Herald: Bees dropping from mystery illness

Little is known, he said, but this: Something seems to be breaking down the bees' immune systems.

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