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Bumblebees Bite Plants To Make Them Flower Early, Scientists Discover

Scientists from Switzerland have found a new – and very clever – behaviour practised by bumblebees, which tricks plants into flowering up to 30 days earlier than they usually would. This new study found that, when deprived of pollen, bumblebees will nibble at the leaves of flowerless plants, making tiny yet effective incisions. The damage

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Bumblebees Bite Plants To Make Them Flower Early, Scientists DiscoverPA Images

Scientists from Switzerland have found a new – and very clever – behaviour practised by bumblebees, which tricks plants into flowering up to 30 days earlier than they usually would.

This new study found that, when deprived of pollen, bumblebees will nibble at the leaves of flowerless plants, making tiny yet effective incisions.

The damage done to the leaves tricks the plant into flowering early, allowing bees to get the nutrients required while building their summer colonies. In instances where pollen is readily available, the bees will not bite the plants.

BumblebeePixabay

For the study, published in Science on May 22, lead author Foteini G. Pashalidou and colleagues put flowerless tomato and black mustard plants inside mesh cages, alongside colonies of pollen-deprived buff-tailed bumblebees.

The team then took the plants away after worker bees made five to 10 punctures in the leaves. These small holes led to the black mustard plants flowering two weeks earlier than normal, while the tomato plants flowered a month sooner than would usually be expected.

Researchers were also able to compare bee behaviours by placing both pollen-fed and pollen-deprived bumblebees in mesh cages with the flowerless plants and observing them.

Worker bees from pollen-fed colonies rarely bit the flowerless plants, while the pollen-deprived colonies were noted to do so.

In a bid to make sure that results weren’t simply on account of artificial lab conditions, bumblebee colonies were placed on a Zurich-based rooftop in March 2018, along with various flowerless plant species.

The bees were able to forage as far afield as they pleased, and yet it was found that they would leave bitemarks on all the nonflowering plants closest to their hives.

The frequency of this behaviour faded toward the end of April, coinciding with the time more local flowers were once again coming into bloom. Scientists believe this establishes that the bees’ leaf-biting activity is driven by pollen availability.

The bees used their proboscises and mandibles to make distinctively-shaped puncture marks in the leaves, but did not eat the material or use it for their nests.

BumblebeePixnio

Co-author Dr Mark Mescher told BBC News:

I think everything that we’ve found is consistent with the idea that the bees are damaging the plants and that that’s an adaptation that brings flowers online earlier and that benefits the bees.

Interestingly, when researchers attempted to copy the damage inflicted on the plants by the bumblebees they were unable to achieve the same results.

Going forward, scientists hope these findings will be useful for finding out more about the resilience of bumblebees, a species which is facing changing environments and threats to their very survival.

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More Than 1,000 Horses In Australia To Be Killed After Shooting Cull Given Green Light

A large number of wild horses in Australia are to be killed after a shooting cull was given the green light. Victoria Supreme Court ruled the cull could go ahead, with the intention of it protecting Victoria’s biodiversity. The Australian state boasts thousands of wild brumby horses who rely on the landscape’s grasses as a

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More Than 1,000 Horses In Australia To Be Killed After Shooting Cull Given Green Lightsaveourbarmahbrumby/Facebook

A large number of wild horses in Australia are to be killed after a shooting cull was given the green light.

Victoria Supreme Court ruled the cull could go ahead, with the intention of it protecting Victoria’s biodiversity.

The Australian state boasts thousands of wild brumby horses who rely on the landscape’s grasses as a source of food. It’s believed the number of brumbies in the Australian Alps has gone from 9,000 to 24,000 over five years.

In 2018, it plans were made to remove 1,200 of the horses over the course of three years.

In a statement from Parks Victoria, in May this year, Matthew Jackson, the CEO, explained the reasoning behind the agency’s decision to kill the horses.

He said:

The Victorian Government is committed to protecting Victoria’s biodiversity, ensuring it is healthy, valued and actively cared for.

Parks Victoria has a legal and moral obligation to protect the native species that are at risk of extinction from the impacts of feral horses and other pest animals.

The conservation of Alpine National Park is key to this. Native alpine plants and animals which are found nowhere else on the planet are not equipped to deal with the weight, grazing, hard hooves or trampling of feral horses.

Jackson added that while the country’s bushfires had a devastating affect on its biodiversity, it’s been ‘severely damaged by feral horses’ as well.

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Enya, Cappa and Binki #brumby

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The statement continued:

By removing large invasive herbivores from the sensitive landscape, Parks Victoria is providing a greater chance of survival for native species. Feral horse management is one component of an integrated approach to reducing the impacts of introduced animals in the Alpine National Park.

Parks Victoria regularly undertakes programs to manage deer, pigs and other non-native species, complementing feral horse management.

All feral horse management operations are thoroughly planned, carried out by highly qualified and experienced professionals under strict conditions, ensuring the operations are safe, effective, humane and in accordance with all relevant legislation, codes of practice and standard operating procedures.

Despite the decision being given the go-ahead by Victoria’s Supreme Court, Omeo cattleman Philip Maguire plans to appeal it after already trying to stop the cull.

Maguire had argued that Parks Victoria failed to consult with the community on its decision to kill the wild horses, but the court ruled the agency wasn’t required to do so.

Justice Stephen Moore said Maguire did not have the standing to bring the proceeding and dismissed the case, but Maguire’s lawyer is now seeking an injunction, The Guardian reportd.

The local cattleman has already saved several horses and has said his land has the capacity for 150 of them.

Parks Victoria has said no horses will be killed before June 9 this year, but Maguire hopes to further halt the cull by now taking the matter to the Court of Appeals. It’s believed the matter with return to court on Friday, June 5.

If you have a story you want to tell, send it to UNILAD via story@unilad.com

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Humpback Whale Seen Swimming In Montreal River For First Time Ever

A humpback whale has been spotted in Montreal for what is thought to be the first time ever after it made its way up the St. Lawrence River in Canada.  The whale is believed to have travelled from Tadoussac, a village in Quebec located at the confluence of the Saguenay and Saint Lawrence rivers, where

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Humpback Whale Seen Swimming In Montreal River For First Time Ever@LeDevoir/Twitter/@BaleineMagazine/Twitter

A humpback whale has been spotted in Montreal for what is thought to be the first time ever after it made its way up the St. Lawrence River in Canada. 

The whale is believed to have travelled from Tadoussac, a village in Quebec located at the confluence of the Saguenay and Saint Lawrence rivers, where it would have lived in salt water.

It was spotted swimming upstream underneath the Pont de Québec earlier this week, and yesterday morning, May 30, the whale found itself near the Jacques Cartier Bridge in Montreal.

Montreal is a fair way inland, but for whatever reason the determined whale decided to make the journey.

Robert Michaud, the coordinator for the Quebec Marine Mammal Emergency Network, described the situation as ‘unusual’, adding: ‘It’s the first time that we see a humpback past the Quebec area’, CBC reports.

Michaud speculated that the whale could have ended up in Montreal after following fish because it was hungry or confused.

He commented:

We don’t know why this animal made this journey. There are several hypotheses. Humans, whales and land mammals, sometimes they are vagrants that go in unusual places.

These journeys are usually a series of mistakes. But what is sure is that this animal doesn’t belong to this habitat.

Michaud said the humpback can live in fresh water, though pointed out the food and water around the city won’t be as healthy. There is also more ‘marine traffic’ in the area, which could cause the whale stress or harm.

Local residents gathered near the river throughout the day in attempt to spot the whale, and to their delight it surfaced every couple of minutes, spraying water through its blowhole or showing off its tail to the onlookers.

People could face a fine if they get within 100 metres of the whale using boats or other craft, though Michaud advised those trying to get a closer look to keep a 200-metre distance.

Though humpback whales are typically gentle, one could cause damage if it became stressed.

Marie-Eve Muller, who also works for the Quebec Marine Mammal Emergency Response Network, said the whale’s adventure may have come to an end in Montreal, the Montreal Gazette reports.

She commented:

The current is quite strong, it’s trying to go up but it’s having a hard time fighting the current.

It’s swimming freely so that’s good, it means it can move around as it needs. It’s hard to predict if it has hit the end of the road and will turn around and hopefully go back to her other humpback whale friends in Tadoussac or Gaspé.

Members of the Quebec Marine Mammal Emergency Network are on the water monitoring the whale’s movements alongside agents from Fisheries and Oceans Canada, who have been following the marine animal for the last two days.

The whale appeared to be slowly heading west as of yesterday, and experts are hoping it will make its way back home soon.

If you have a story you want to tell, send it to UNILAD via story@unilad.com

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Australian Reptile Park Celebrates First Koala Born Since Deadly Bushfires

An Australian zoo has welcomed its first koala joey since the crippling bushfires earlier this year.  Amid the storm of events 2020 has endured already, it can be easy to forget the devastation of the blazes Down Under – more than 12.6 million hectares of land were burnt to a crisp, 33 people died and

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Australian Reptile Park Koala JoeyAustralian Reptile Park/Facebook

An Australian zoo has welcomed its first koala joey since the crippling bushfires earlier this year. 

Amid the storm of events 2020 has endured already, it can be easy to forget the devastation of the blazes Down Under – more than 12.6 million hectares of land were burnt to a crisp, 33 people died and more than a billion animals were killed.

However, over at Australian Reptile Park, a true flicker of light has emerged from the losses across the country: Ash the koala joey has entered the world.

FIRST KOALA JOEY OF THE SEASON!

We have a very special announcement… Our very first koala of the season has popped out of Mums pouch to say hello! 🐨Keepers have decided to name her Ash! Ash is the first koala born at the park since the tragic Australian bushfires and is a sign of hope for the future of Australia’s native wildlife.

Posted by Australian Reptile Park on Monday, May 25, 2020

Ash was actually born back in January, however joeys often stay in their pouches for up to seven months, so it was only safe to check on her well-being recently. According to the zoo’s staff, Ash is estimated to be around five months old and is ‘right on track to be emerging from the pouch for the first time’.

In a Facebook post, the New South Wales Central Coast zoo wrote: ‘Ash is the first koala born at the park since the tragic Australian bushfires and is a sign of hope for the future of Australia’s native wildlife.’

Australian Reptile Park Koala Joey AshAustralian Reptile Park/Facebook

Speaking to news.com.au, zookeeper Dan Rumsey said: 

They’re ambassadors for koalas in the wild: the ones who truly suffered in the bushfires. Koalas are iconic… and even though ours are bred in captivity, we like to think we’re helping the fairly decimated population. Ash represents the start of what we’re hoping to be another successful breeding season.

Across the bushfire season, Federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley told ABC News that more than 30% of NSW’s koala population may have perished. However, Ash looks to be the beacon for a successful breeding season – currently, there’s at least another three joeys in pouches at the zoo.

Australian Reptile Park Koala Joey Ash 2Australian Reptile Park/Facebook

Rumsey added: ‘It was such an incredible moment when we saw Ash poke her head out of her mum’s pouch for the first time! Her mother Rosie has shown exemplary parenting skills and we know that Ash is in good paws.’

Australian Reptile Park is set to re-open tomorrow, June 1, after months of closure due to the current pandemic, with Rumsey adding that he’s ‘absolutely ecstatic to open our doors again’.

Australian Reptile Park Koala Joey Ash 3Australian Reptile Park/Facebook

Rumsey said:

While I’ve been at work everyday, we know the animals have been missing the visitors. We’re taking every precaution to ensure the safety of our visitors, staff and animals and have implemented our COVID-safe reopening plan.

Across Australia, there have been 7,195 confirmed cases of the virus, with 103 deaths – at the time of writing, more than 6,600 people have recovered.

It’s okay to not panic about everything going on in the world right now. LADbible and UNILAD’s aim with our campaign, Cutting Through, is to provide our community with facts and stories from the people who are either qualified to comment or have experienced first-hand the situation we’re facing. For more information from the World Health Organization, click here.

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