The Denver Zoo may be closed to visitors to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus, but, for the animals inside, life goes on.
This is especially the case for the zoo's lion pride, which welcomed two new members Thursday, April 23, the zoo announced Tuesday. The new cubs were born to mother and father Kamara and Tobias, who are both four years old.
"We're seeing a lot of positive signs that things are going well, and will continue to keep a close eye on [Kamara] and the cubs in these critical first days and weeks," Assistant Curator of Predators Matt Lenyo said.
The births come little less than a year after the zoo welcomed another lion cub named Tatu, The Denver Post reported. Tatu is also the child of Tobias, meaning he now has two half-siblings. (Their sexes are still unknown.) His mother is Kamara's mother, Neliah, and his birth is now helping the new mom care for her own cubs.
"We are watching Kamara closely to make sure she's showing appropriate maternal behaviors, like nursing and grooming," Lenyo said. "She learned a lot by watching Neliah and interacting with Tatu last year, which really prepared her to be a mom."
The cubs' birth is good news for lion conservation. African lions have decreased by fifty percent since 1994, Wildlife Conservation Network (WCN) told National Geographic. While they once roamed almost the entire African continent, they are now absent from 94 percent of their historic range and are considered vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. The primary threats to their survival are loss of prey and habitat, as well as poaching.
"Lions are truly one of the world's universal icons, and they are quietly slipping away," WCN director of conservation programs Paul Thomson told National Geographic.
The new cubs' birth is part of an effort to combat this trend. Tobias, their father, was moved to the Denver Zoo in 2018 from Buffalo in the hope that he would mate with Kamara and Neliah, the zoo said. The move was recommended by the Lion Species Survival Plan, a plan for ensuring healthy, genetically diverse lion populations in zoos belonging to the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA).
"Kamara and Tobias were a very genetically valuable match," General Curator Emily Insalaco said in the birth announcement. "And these cubs are an important contribution to the species' population in AZA facilities, and will help inspire visitors to learn more about their wild cousins."
While the zoo isn't receiving visitors right now, the cubs won't know the difference. They will be secluded with their mother for two months to give them time to connect with her and meet the rest of the pack, which also includes an unrelated seven-year-old female named Sabi.
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By Katherine Kornei
Clear-cutting a forest is relatively easy—just pick a tree and start chopping. But there are benefits to more sophisticated forest management. One technique—which involves repeatedly harvesting smaller trees every 30 or so years but leaving an upper story of larger trees for longer periods (60, 90, or 120 years)—ensures a steady supply of both firewood and construction timber.
A Pattern in the Rings<p>The <a href="https://www.encyclopedia.com/science/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/coppice-standards-0" target="_blank">coppice-with-standards</a> management practice produces a two-story forest, said <a href="https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Bernhard_Muigg" target="_blank">Bernhard Muigg</a>, a dendrochronologist at the University of Freiburg in Germany. "You have an upper story of single trees that are allowed to grow for several understory generations."</p><p>That arrangement imprints a characteristic tree ring pattern in a forest's upper story trees (the "standards"): thick rings indicative of heavy growth, which show up at regular intervals as the surrounding smaller trees are cut down. "The trees are growing faster," said Muigg. "You can really see it with your naked eye."</p><p>Muigg and his collaborators characterized that <a href="https://ltrr.arizona.edu/about/treerings" target="_blank">dendrochronological pattern</a> in 161 oak trees growing in central Germany, one of the few remaining sites in Europe with actively managed coppice-with-standards forests. They found up to nine cycles of heavy growth in the trees, the oldest of which was planted in 1761. The researchers then turned to a historical data set — more than 2,000 oak <a href="https://eos.org/articles/podcast-discovering-europes-history-through-its-timbers" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">timbers from buildings and archaeological sites</a> in Germany and France dating from between 300 and 2015 — to look for a similar pattern.</p>
A Gap of 500 Years<p>The team found wood with the characteristic coppice-with-standards tree ring pattern dating to as early as the 6th century. That was a surprise, Muigg and his colleagues concluded, because the first mention of this forest management practice in historical documents occurred only roughly 500 years later, in the 13th century.</p><p>It's probable that forest management practices were not well documented prior to the High Middle Ages (1000–1250), the researchers suggested. "Forests are mainly mentioned in the context of royal hunting interests or donations," said Muigg. Dendrochronological studies are particularly important because they can reveal information not captured by a sparse historical record, he added.</p><p>These results were <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-78933-8" target="_blank">published in December in <em>Scientific Reports</em></a>.</p><p>"It's nice to see the longevity and the history of coppice-with-standards," said <a href="https://www.teagasc.ie/contact/staff-directory/s/ian-short/" target="_blank">Ian Short</a>, a forestry researcher at Teagasc, the Agriculture and Food Development Authority in Ireland, not involved in the research. This technique is valuable because it promotes conservation and habitat biodiversity, Short said. "In the next 10 or 20 years, I think we'll see more coppice-with-standards coming back into production."</p><p>In the future, Muigg and his collaborators hope to analyze a larger sample of historic timbers to trace how the coppice-with-standards practice spread throughout Europe. It will be interesting to understand where this technique originated and how it propagated, said Muigg, and there are plenty of old pieces of wood waiting to be analyzed. "There [are] tons of dendrochronological data."</p><p><em><a href="mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Katherine Kornei</a> is a freelance science journalist covering Earth and space science. Her bylines frequently appear in Eos, Science, and The New York Times. Katherine holds a Ph.D. in astronomy from the University of California, Los Angeles.</em></p><p><em>This story originally appeared in <a href="https://eos.org/articles/tree-rings-reveal-how-ancient-forests-were-managed" target="_blank">Eos</a></em> <em>and is republished here as part of Covering Climate Now, a global journalism collaboration strengthening coverage of the climate story.</em></p>
Earth's ice is melting 57 percent faster than in the 1990s and the world has lost more than 28 trillion tons of ice since 1994, research published Monday in The Cryosphere shows.
By Jewel Fraser
Noreen Nunez lives in a middle-class neighborhood that rises up a hillside in Trinidad's Tunapuna-Piarco region.