Female Giraffes With Friends Live Longer, Study Finds
A giraffe's life is a hard one, crowded by humans, stressed by habitat fragmentation and threatened by poaching. But for females, friends could make it better and longer, a recent study finds.
Over the past three decades, giraffe populations have declined by 30 percent, The Atlantic reported. Today, only 111,000 individuals remain. Forming close relationships with fellow giraffes, however, could increase a female's chances at survival, researchers found.
Led by Monica Bond at the University of Zurich in Switzerland, a team of researchers asked, "Do differences in the socio-ecological environment experienced by individuals influence their survival?" After studying giraffes in Tanzania for five years, their findings were published Wednesday.
So far, few studies have combined information on a giraffe's social life, non-social components and demographic data to better understand their chances of survival, the authors wrote. Their study, however, incorporates influences from a giraffe's natural environment and stressors from humans to better understand the benefits of social bonds.
"Grouping with more females, called gregariousness, is correlated with better survival of female giraffes, even as group membership is frequently changing," Bond told the University of Zurich.
Female giraffes form similar social bonds as humans do, proving to be beneficial for their ability to feed and rear their young, the University of Zurich reported.
"It seems to be beneficial for female giraffes to connect with a greater number of others and develop a sense of larger community, but without a strong sense of exclusive subgroup affiliation," Bond added, according to the University of Zurich. Giraffes that live more isolated lives, however, miss out on opportunities to learn about plentiful food sources and nearby predators, the authors wrote.
But female giraffes seek companions for more than just insight on the best food spots and local knowledge. The researchers found that when female giraffes formed close bonds with other females, they were able to manage their stress levels, often raised by harassment from male giraffes.
While poaching does indeed decline giraffe populations, growing human disturbance and habitat fragmentation are the biggest threats, The Atlantic reported.
"When the land is not open, it reduces the animals' ability to be flexible to change," Julian Fennessy, co-director and co-founder of the Giraffe Conservation Foundation, said. "And change is certainly upon them," The Atlantic reported.
Combined stressors, like shorter rainy seasons and longer droughts brought on by climate change, as well as competition from nearby pastoralists for the same natural resources, impact giraffe survival, especially their reproductive success, The Atlantic reported.
But that's not it. Giraffes also suffer from a lesser-known risk.
In what Fennessy calls a "silent extinction," giraffes have long been overlooked by conservation groups, National Geographic reported, mainly because there are other endangered species in Africa, like elephants, rhinoceroses and chimpanzees that often get more attention from conservation groups. "Giraffes have suffered from surprising scientific neglect," the Atlantic reported, despite the adoration people have for the creature. "Few researchers have studied them in the wild, so even basic aspects of their lives remain mysterious."
Insight into a giraffe's ideal social life could help scientists and conservationists alike understand more about one of the planet's most distinct creatures, and help protect them before they have no friends left.
"This aspect of giraffe sociability is even more important than attributes of their non-social environment such as vegetation and nearness to human settlements," Bond told the University of Zurich.
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Wisdom the mōlī, or Laysan albatross, is the oldest wild bird known to science at the age of at least 70. She is also, as of February 1, a new mother.
<div id="dadb2" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="aa2ad8cb566c9b4b6d2df2693669f6f9"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1357796504740761602" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">🚨Cute baby alert! Wisdom's chick has hatched!!! 🐣😍 Wisdom, a mōlī (Laysan albatross) and world’s oldest known, ban… https://t.co/Nco050ztBA</div> — USFWS Pacific Region (@USFWS Pacific Region)<a href="https://twitter.com/USFWSPacific/statuses/1357796504740761602">1612558888.0</a></blockquote></div>
By Hui Hu
Winter is supposed to be the best season for wind power – the winds are stronger, and since air density increases as the temperature drops, more force is pushing on the blades. But winter also comes with a problem: freezing weather.
Comparing rime ice and glaze ice shows how each changes the texture of the blade. Gao, Liu and Hu, 2021, CC BY-ND
Ice buildup changes air flow around the turbine blade, which can slow it down. The top photos show ice forming after 10 minutes at different temperatures in the Wind Research Tunnel. The lower measurements show airflow separation as ice accumulates. Icing Research Tunnel of Iowa State University, CC BY-ND
While traditional investment in the ocean technology sector has been tentative, growth in Israeli maritime innovations has been exponential in the last few years, and environmental concern has come to the forefront.
theDOCK aims to innovate the Israeli maritime sector. Pexels<p>The UN hopes that new investments in ocean science and technology will help turn the tide for the oceans. As such, this year kicked off the <a href="https://www.oceandecade.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030)</a> to galvanize massive support for the blue economy.</p><p>According to the World Bank, the blue economy is the "sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods, and jobs while preserving the health of ocean ecosystem," <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0160412019338255#b0245" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Science Direct</a> reported. It represents this new sector for investments and innovations that work in tandem with the oceans rather than in exploitation of them.</p><p>As recently as Aug. 2020, <a href="https://www.reutersevents.com/sustainability/esg-investors-slow-make-waves-25tn-ocean-economy" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Reuters</a> noted that ESG Investors, those looking to invest in opportunities that have a positive impact in environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues, have been interested in "blue finance" but slow to invest.</p><p>"It is a hugely under-invested economic opportunity that is crucial to the way we have to address living on one planet," Simon Dent, director of blue investments at Mirova Natural Capital, told Reuters.</p><p>Even with slow investment, the blue economy is still expected to expand at twice the rate of the mainstream economy by 2030, Reuters reported. It already contributes $2.5tn a year in economic output, the report noted.</p><p>Current, upward <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/-innovation-blue-economy-2646147405.html" target="_self">shifts in blue economy investments are being driven by innovation</a>, a trend the UN hopes will continue globally for the benefit of all oceans and people.</p><p>In Israel, this push has successfully translated into investment in and innovation of global ports, shipping, logistics and offshore sectors. The "Startup Nation," as Israel is often called, has seen its maritime tech ecosystem grow "significantly" in recent years and expects that growth to "accelerate dramatically," <a href="https://itrade.gov.il/belgium-english/how-israel-is-becoming-a-port-of-call-for-maritime-innovation/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">iTrade</a> reported.</p><p>Driving this wave of momentum has been rising Israeli venture capital hub <a href="https://www.thedockinnovation.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">theDOCK</a>. Founded by Israeli Navy veterans in 2017, theDOCK works with early-stage companies in the maritime space to bring their solutions to market. The hub's pioneering efforts ignited Israel's maritime technology sector, and now, with their new fund, theDOCK is motivating these high-tech solutions to also address ESG criteria.</p><p>"While ESG has always been on theDOCK's agenda, this theme has become even more of a priority," Nir Gartzman, theDOCK's managing partner, told EcoWatch. "80 percent of the startups in our portfolio (for theDOCK's Navigator II fund) will have a primary or secondary contribution to environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria."</p><p>In a company presentation, theDOCK called contribution to the ESG agenda a "hot discussion topic" for traditional players in the space and their boards, many of whom are looking to adopt new technologies with a positive impact on the planet. The focus is on reducing carbon emissions and protecting the environment, the presentation outlines. As such, theDOCK also explicitly screens candidate investments by ESG criteria as well.</p><p>Within the maritime space, environmental innovations could include measures like increased fuel and energy efficiency, better monitoring of potential pollution sources, improved waste and air emissions management and processing of marine debris/trash into reusable materials, theDOCK's presentation noted.</p>
theDOCK team includes (left to right) Michal Hendel-Sufa, Head of Alliances, Noa Schuman, CMO, Nir Gartzman, Co-Founder & Managing Partner, and Hannan Carmeli, Co-Founder & Managing Partner. Dudu Koren<p>theDOCK's own portfolio includes companies like Orca AI, which uses an intelligent collision avoidance system to reduce the probability of oil or fuel spills, AiDock, which eliminates the use of paper by automating the customs clearance process, and DockTech, which uses depth "crowdsourcing" data to map riverbeds in real-time and optimize cargo loading, thereby reducing trips and fuel usage while also avoiding groundings.</p><p>"Oceans are a big opportunity primarily because they are just that – big!" theDOCK's Chief Marketing Officer Noa Schuman summarized. "As such, the magnitude of their criticality to the global ecosystem, the magnitude of pollution risk and the steps needed to overcome those challenges – are all huge."</p><p>There is hope that this wave of interest and investment in environmentally-positive maritime technologies will accelerate the blue economy and ESG investing even further, in Israel and beyond.</p>
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