November Biodiversity News

Black Canada lynx photographed for the first time: A black-coated Canada lynx was photographed for the first time by a researcher at the University of Alberta, Canada. Thomas Jung, also employed by the Government of Yukon, recorded the animal in a 30 second video on a cell phone. This unique finding is reported in an article, “Paint it black: first record of melanism in Canada lynx (Lynx canadensis),” in the journal Mammalia. The lynx was found on a summer day, August 29, 2020, in a rural residential area near the town of Whitehorse, Yukon, which contains low density housing embedded in mature forest dominated by white spruce. The lynx was viewed from a distance of about 50 meters and was relatively undisturbed by the presence of nearby people and a dog until it left the area, possibly due to the dog’s barking. Coat color in the entire Lynx genus tends to be stable, with little variation within species compared to that of other members of the cat family (felidae). In addition to being the first recorded case of melanism in Lynx canadensisi, this sighting adds to only a small number of coat color variations found in any member of the genus Lynx.

Beneficial and beautiful: Biodiversity of meadows and pastures can be an asset for nature, agriculture, and tourism: In a long-term study, an international team led by INRAE and Senckenberg researchers Dr. Gaëtane Le Provost and Dr. Peter Manning has demonstrated the importance of grassland biodiversity for a wide range of ecosystem services and various stakeholder groups. The study, published in Nature Ecology & Evolution, is the first to expand the view to a total of 16 ecosystem services—from ecological to cultural—and to examine the biodiversity of agricultural meadows and pastures on a large scale. The researchers show that a high plant diversity can benefit local actors—from tourism to agriculture. Where species-rich meadows provide habitat for bees and other insects, ecosystem services such as pollination or natural pest control offer benefits not only to nature but to agriculture as well. But what about less obvious ecosystem services provided by organisms below ground that affect soil quality? And exactly how does a high biodiversity affect the experience of nature, which also plays an important role in local tourism as a leisure activity and recreational opportunity? To gain a comprehensive picture of these biodiversity dynamics, an international research team led by Dr. Gaëtane Le Provost and Dr. Peter Manning from the Senckenberg Biodiversity and Climate Research Center in Frankfurt studied agricultural meadows and pastures in various rural regions in Germany. In the process, they evaluated data that were collected continuously since 2006 as part of the “Biodiversity Exploratories” project for areas in the Swabian Alb, the Hainich-Dün region of central Germany, and the Schorfheide-Chorin Biosphere Reserve in Brandenburg. “The areas differ in climate and topography and at the same time serve as examples for different types of typical grassland use in Central Europe,” explains Le Provost. “We found that, without exception, all of the groups surveyed could benefit from a high level of biodiversity—from local residents to the tourism industry,” reports Sophie Peter, a research associate at the ISOE. Lastly, the research team was able to demonstrate the benefits of high plant diversity not only for smaller areas but considered the biodiversity dynamics in relation to the larger environment.

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