Best of our wild blogs: 4 Jan 18

Corallimorph Hunt Day 1: Pulau Ubin
wild shores of singapore

Can restore mangroves without planting, meh?
wild shores of singapore

Earthfest 2018
Love our MacRitchie Forest

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About Singapore's blue biodiversity

The waters surrounding Singapore are teeming with life, and nature enthusiasts are working to preserve them and raise awareness of the world that exists in the seas.
Jose Hong Straits Times 4 Jan 18;


A coral is made up of thousands of invertebrate animals that form one structure. They feed either by taking food from algae that live in them or by capturing small animals that drift around them.

Many corals that grow together form reefs which, in turn, support a staggering amount of life, both animal and human.

Singapore has lost about 60 per cent of its reefs due to land reclamation over the years. Despite the loss, its waters are home to about one-third of the world's hard coral species.

This is because Singapore sits near the Coral Triangle, an area spanning the seas of Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Papua New Guinea, Timor-Leste and the Solomon Islands. The area is considered to be the largest and richest treasure trove of marine life on the planet.


Economic development has destroyed most of Singapore's existing reefs and, coupled with intensive land reclamation, this has led to murky waters off the country's shores. In the 1960s, Singapore's seas used to be clear enough that marine life up to 10m underwater was visible from a boat.

The sediments that are built up over the decades interfere with the corals' ability to filter water, as well as reduce the sunlight that reaches the algae that live inside these corals and provide them with food.

Another big threat is coral bleaching. Linked to climate change, this occurs when the sea becomes too warm for corals, causing them to expel the algae living inside them. As a result, the corals, deprived of their food source, turn pale white. If bleached for too long, the corals will die.

The reefs around Singapore also face dangers from the many ships that ply the waters, which can crash into them and kill them.


Divers can join Our Singapore Reefs and the Hantu Bloggers, groups dedicated to promoting awareness of the country's reefs.

The National Parks Board also runs programmes for those passionate about reefs and who do not necessarily dive. For example, volunteers can sign up as guides, citizen scientists and divers at Sisters' Islands Marine Park.

They can also join the Coral Reef Monitoring Programme, which checks the health of underwater habitats in the Southern Islands.

There are also opportunities for those who want to help related ecosystems. TeamSeagrass, for example, monitors Singapore's seagrass meadows during low tide throughout the year.

Jose Hong

Related link
Celebrating Singapore Shores a website featuring Singapore's marine heritage for International Year of the Reef 2018

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Cage trap found near otters' habitat in Marina Reservoir; PUB appeals for witnesses

Channel NewsAsia 3 Jan 18;

SINGAPORE: Several otters were spotted exploring a cage meant for trapping fish at Marina Reservoir on Tuesday (Jan 2) morning, prompting the Public Utilities Board (PUB) to appeal for witnesses to the offence.

The water agency worked together with OtterWatch, a local group of otter enthusiasts, to remove the cage.

"Fortunately no animals were trapped," said PUB in a Facebook post on Tuesday evening.

"It is an offence to trap any animal or do any act which causes injury to the fauna in any reservoir. Those caught doing so may be fined up to S$3,000," it added.

It also urged witnesses who see any suspicious activities along reservoirs to contact PUB with the date, time, location and pictures of the incident.

This is not the first incident of otters being put in harm's way. In October, an otter pup was found in a canal in Pasir Ris Park with a deep wound running across its back and sides. The wound was reportedly caused by an o-ring that got entangled around the otter's body.

Channel NewsAsia has reached out to the Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (ACRES) for a comment.

Source: CNA/aa

Otters spotted exploring illegal fishing cage at Marina Reservoir; PUB appeals for witnesses
Lydia Lam Straits Times 3 Jan 18;

SINGAPORE - An illegal fish-trapping cage was found in the Marina Reservoir on Tuesday (Jan 2) by an otter watcher who spotted the animals exploring the device, prompting water agency PUB to step in and call for witnesses.

The otter watcher spotted the otters climbing on a structure near the Indoor Stadium, opposite Tanjong Rhu, and realised it was an animal-trapping cage.

She alerted the PUB, which removed the cage from the Marina Reservoir with the help of otter community group OtterWatch.

PUB said in a Facebook post on Tuesday that no animals were trapped.

It is illegal to use such trapping cages in any reservoirs or waterways, even in areas where fishing is allowed.

Additionally, those caught trapping any animal or doing any act which injures fauna in any reservoir may be fined up to $3,000.

Mr Adriane Lee, a volunteer zone captain with International Coastal Cleanup Singapore which cleans up Singapore's coastlines and waterways, told The Straits Times on Wednesday that the trap was a funnel trap used to trap fish.

"The idea is for fish to enter in one direction and they can't get out as they don't know how to find their way out," said the 43-year-old manager. "From my understanding, all forms of trapping such as this and nets are not allowed in nature reserves and waterways."

Mr Lee, who has been a zone captain for six years and oversees the north-west parts of Singapore, said trapped fish can attract larger predators such as otters and birds that can get trapped.

"For example, an otter can get its head stuck inside the hole," he said. "If the trap is lost or abandoned, for example if the owner forgot where he laid the trap or if water currents shift it, it is even worse as it will be in the water trapping indefinitely."

He added that the trap is made of nylon and will not degrade naturally in the water, and so will remain there for a long time, falling apart over a long period of time only when abrasion against the water bed cuts the cords.

Mr Kalai Vanan, deputy chief executive officer at Animal Concerns Research & Education Society (Acres), told ST that Acres often responds to cases where animals become entangled or get caught in such cages, traps or fishing lines.

"We urge the public to be vigilant when walking along park connectors and waterways to inform the authorities if they sight such traps, fishing lines or people fishing in prohibited areas," he said. "They can also help remove the traps or abandoned fishing lines if possible. These traps can be of great harm to our fauna."

Acres receives about two calls per month on animals that are entangled or caught in cages, traps or fishing lines.

In June last year, a dead otter was found in a cage along the Marina Promenade and a man was caught setting traps in the area that same day.

PUB urged the public to call its hotline on 1800-CALL-PUB (1800-2255-782) if they have information on the new case, or if they have spotted any suspicious activities at the reservoir.

When reporting, it would be helpful to furnish the date, time and location, along with any photos and videos.

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Electric car-sharing service BlueSG sees more than 5,000 rentals in first 3 weeks

Channel NewsAsia 3 Jan 18;

SINGAPORE: More than 3,300 people have registered for Singapore's first electric car-sharing service since it was launched, with more than 5,000 rentals in its first three weeks of operation.

BlueSG's managing director Franck Vitte said on Wednesday (Jan 3) that the company was "encouraged and heartened by the overwhelming response so far".

"This shows that BlueSG is a convenient and attractive option for commuters. We are looking at quickly deploying more stations islandwide as requested by a high number of Singapore residents,” he said in a press release.

BlueSG deployed 80 cars with 32 charging stations on Dec 12, 2017. The operator earlier said that it plans to roll out 1,000 electric vehicles and 2,000 charging points in Singapore by 2020.

Rentals for the cars are charged based on duration instead of distance, and users can choose from two subscription plans.

Under the premium yearly membership plan, priced at S$15 a month, subscribers are charged S$0.33 per minute for a minimum booking of 15 minutes.

The weekly membership plan does not charge a recurring fee and users pay S$0.50 per minute for a minimum duration of 15 minutes.

Source: CNA/am

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Malaysia: Iman the rhino eats better as health improves

KRISTY INUS New Straits Times 3 Jan 18;

KOTA KINABALU: The sick Sumatran rhinoceros called Iman has shown improvement as its food intake reaches 40 to 50 per cent of her normal eating habit.

Iman, a female rhino, suffers from uterus tumour and is being fed with at least 10 different types of plants to improve its appetite.

Sabah Wildlife Department director Augustine Tuuga said six variety of plants were provided in its pen.

"It is also fed with about three to four kilogrammes of bananas and mangoes.

"The fruits are also used as a bait so that we can feed it with medicines," he said in a statement.

Augustine said the rhino was given mud packs twice a day to prevent cracked skins and ease its discomfort.

He said the sole of its hooves had been disintegrating since it came into the pen on the Dec 18, last year.

However, he said its recent bleeding was severe and this possibly was caused from the detached muscle tumour inside its uterus.

"We hope that the Tanexamic acid will stop the bleeding. The same treatment worked in its past three bleeding incidents.

“The main problem is that, with the massive bleeding in the uterus, cauterising the bleeding part might be the only way to stop it," he said.

However, Augustine said no known experts were available to perform the procedure.

He said said it was difficult to ascertain if the rhino would survive if the bleeding was not stopped soon.

Non-invasive treatment for cancer-ridden rhino
OLIVIA MIWIL New Straits Times 9 Jan 18;

KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah Wildlife Department will use a non-invasive approach to treat the last female Sumatran rhinoceros, who is suffering from uterine cancer.

Its director Augustine Tuuga said the authorities have agreed to stem the blood flowing out of her cervix and vagina.

“We hope that this (method) will give her time to heal and stop the bleeding.

“The approach is new but it has to be done,” he said in a statement today.

The female rhino, Iman, was diagnosed with uterine cancer last month.

Augustine said the department held several consultations with wildlife veterinarians from the United States, Africa and Germany on Iman’s treatment.

He said endoscopic cauterising of the bleeders was the best option. He, however, said the procedurue would be risky due to Iman’s weak condition.

Iman, who is kept at Tabin Wildlife Reserve in Lahad Datu with another male rhino Kertam, is lethargic and is sleeping most of the time after losing significant amounts of blood.

“When she sleeps, Iman will get her mud packs thrice a day.

“Iman's appetite varies each day but has increased slowly.

“She would come into the chute to be hand-fed by the keeper. We are also making sure that she takes her meds,” he said, adding that she was being fed with 15kg of food daily.

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Malaysia: Fisheries Research Institute rescues two stranded turtles

The Star 3 Jan 18;

KUALA TERENGGANU: The Rantau Abang Fisheries Research Institute (FRI) in Dungun has saved two turtles found stranded by the public in two separate incidents on Monday and Tuesday.

Rantau Abang FRI Marine Mammals branch chief Mohd Tamimi Ali Ahmad said an Olive Ridley sea turtle was found in a frail condition at the beach near the Seberang Takir Fisheries Development Centre in Kuala Nerus on Monday (Jan 1), after being swept to the beach by strong currents.

“The turtle weighing 6.1kg had also sustained injuries to its shell, and was famished.

“A day later, a 2kg Eretmochelys Imbricata or hawksbill sea turtle was found in a pitiful state on the beach near the Marang District Fisheries Office, as its back left flipper had almost come off after getting stuck in a drift net,” he told Bernama on Wednesday.

Mohd Tamimi, who is also chief of the Endangered Marine Species Rescue Team under the Fisheries Department of Malaysia, said apart from the diet, the turtles were also injected with antibiotics to treat internal and external wounds.

He said the monsoon season which has hit Kelantan, Terengganu, Pahang and Johor, was also affecting marine life.

“Huge waves of up to 3m high with wind speeds reaching 40-80kph are not only deadly to humans, but also endangers marine species such as whales, dolphins, dugong (sea cows) and turtles.

“In view of this, I hope those who find any marine life stranded on the beach will immediately alert the Rantau Abang FRI so that these endangered animals can be treated and saved,” he said. – Bernama

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Malaysia: Suspected poachers make violent escape, but were nabbed anyway

stephanie lee The Star 3 Jan 18;

KOTA KINABALU: Two suspected poachers were arrested near the Rara Forest Reserve in Tawau, one day after they rammed through a roadblock mounted by the Forestry Department.

The suspects, a father-and-son Malaysian duo aged 25 and 51, came across the roadblock at about 6.30pm on Dec 29, but instead of stopping, rammed through a gate and hit two Forestry Department vehicles, narrowly missing two rangers on duty.

A chase ensued but the suspects managed to escape after about 10km.

Tawau police chief Asst Comm Fadil Marsus said according to the rangers, the suspects also threw items at the pursuing officers in an attempt to ditch them.

“After receiving a report from the forest rangers, we sent out a team to search for the suspects,” he said when contacted.

“Following a tip-off, our team caught the duo at their house about 10.30am on Dec 30,” he added.

ACP Fadil said the police seized the vehicle used during the incident and raided their house, but found no illegal items inside.

He added that the duo have been remanded until Jan 3 and are expected to be released on bail.

No one was injured in the incident.

It is learnt that forest rangers have been conducting round-the-clock roadblocks at hotspots since Dec 26 to stop poachers in restricted areas following numerous killings of elephants and other wildlife.

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Malaysia: Over 1,000 forced to leave their homes as floods hit

The New Paper 3 Jan 18;

JOHOR BARU More than 1,000 people have been forced to leave their homes after floods hit various states in Malaysia yesterday, with more rain predicted due to the annual northeast monsoon.

Johor, which has suffered heavy downpours since Sunday evening, saw the number of flood victims rise to 371 people yesterday morning, reported The Star, with most of those affected in Mersing district.

State Health, Environment, Education and Information committee chairman Ayub Rahmat said that 95 families had been evacuated from their homes as at 6am yesterday.

"Mersing is currently the worst hit with 337 people seeking shelter at seven flood relief centres," said Mr Ayub. Another 34 flood evacuees are at relief centres in the Kota Tinggi district.

Meanwhile, three primary schools in the Kluang district were affected by rising floodwaters.

Roads leading to two were cut off yesterday morning, while a third had to be closed, said Mr Ayub.

Floods also affected Malaysia's eastern state of Pahang, forcing 11 schools to be closed yesterday, the first day of the new school year.

Pahang acting director of education Tajuddin Mohd Yunus said the schools would reopen only after the floodwaters recede and parents would be kept informed.

A total of 445 flood victims were evacuated from Pahang yesterday morning, reported national news agency Bernama. Pahang Civil Defence Force director Zainal Yusof said 349 people from 95 families were evacuated to five relief centres in Rompin.

Another 233 people from Dungun, a coastal district in Terengganu, were moved to evacuation centres.

The east coast of Malaysia is braced for more flooding after the Kelantan irrigation department warned that floods are expected to strike six districts in the state's river basin early this morning.

The department's director Kamal Mustapha told Bernama that more than 240mm of rain fell in the Gunung Gagau area of Gua Musang over the past two days.

Heavy rain worsens flooding in Pahang, victims evacuated up to 5,429
T.N.Alagesh New Straits Times 4 Jan 18;

KUANTAN: Heavy rain has worsened the floods in Pahang as the number of victims evacuated to relief centres in five districts has jumped up to 5,429 compared to 1,884 Wednesday morning.

Kuantan remains the worst-hit district with 4,468 people from 1,255 families seeking shelter at 24 relief centres.

Checks on the Welfare Department flood portal showed as of 7pm, 644 victims from 171 families are seeking shelter in Rompin, 226 victims from 59 families in Pekan, 19 people from five families in Jerantut, and 72 people from 16 families in Maran.

A state Civil Defence Force (APM) spokesman said Pekan, Jerantut and Maran joined the list of flood-hit districts today after several low-lying areas were inundated.

He said the increasing number of flood evacuees in Kuantan was due to the continuous heavy downpour, combined with the high tide phenomenon.

"The weather has improved today and it is no longer raining heavily but the river continues to show a rising trend," he said.

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Habitat on the Edges: Making Room for Wildlife in an Urbanized World

Efforts to protect biodiversity are now focusing less on preserving pristine areas and more on finding room for wildlife on the margins of human development. As urban areas keep expanding, it is increasingly the only way to allow species to survive.
RICHARD CONNIFF Yale Environment 360 3 Jan 18;

One morning not long ago, in the southern Indian state of Karnataka, I traveled with a Wildlife Conservation Society biologist on a switchback route up and over the high ridge of the Western Ghats. Our itinerary loosely followed the corridor connecting Bhadra Tiger Reserve with Kudremakh National Park 30 miles to the south.

In places, we passed beautiful shade coffee plantations, with an understory of coffee plants, and pepper vines — a second cash crop — twining up the trunks of the shade trees. Coffee plantations managed in this fashion, connected to surviving patches of natural forest, “provide continuous camouflage for the predators,” — especially tigers moving through by night, my guide explained, and wildlife conflict was minimal. Elsewhere, though, the corridor narrowed to a thread winding past sprawling villages, and conservationists played a double game, part handholding to help people live with large predators on their doorsteps, part legal combat to keep economic interests from nibbling into the wildlife corridor from both sides. It was a microcosm of how wildlife hangs on these days, not just in India, but almost everywhere in the world.

For conservationists, protecting biodiversity has in recent years become much less about securing new protected areas in pristine habitat and more about making room for wildlife on the margins of our own urbanized existence. Conservation now often means modifying human landscapes to do double-duty as wildlife habitat — or, more accurately, to continue functioning for wildlife even as humans colonize them for their homes, highways, and farms. There is simply no place else for animals to live.

The ambition to create new protected areas still persists, of course. National parks, wildlife refuges, and other protected areas remain essential, especially for species that do not adapt well to human-dominated landscapes. The 168 signatory nations to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) have acknowledged as much, at least on paper, committing to extend protected area coverage to 17 percent of their land area by 2020. But getting there has proved difficult. Coverage by national parks and other terrestrial protected areas has remained stuck for the past few years at about 15 percent worldwide, well short of CBD commitments, much less E.O. Wilson’s grander vision of “half-Earth” set aside for nature.

Meanwhile, though, work to improve buffer zones around parks, and to establish corridors on the land between existing protected areas, has flourished. For instance:

Just since 2000, private land area protected under conservation easements in the United States has more than doubled, from 23 million to 56 million acres, according to the Land Trust Alliance — though those easements tend to impose fewer restrictions on landowners than in the past.

Corridor protection on the grand scale has achieved remarkable results, notably with the 2,000-mile long Yellowstone-to-Yukon Conservation Initiative. It aims to connect protected areas and to ensure safe passage for elk, grizzly bears, and other wildlife across 500,000 square miles of largely shared habitat, both public and privately owned. At the same time, research by Nick Haddad, a conservation biologist at the University of Michigan’s W.K. Kellogg Biological Station, has demonstrated substantial improvements in biodiversity from corridors as little as 25 yards in width, well within the range, he says, of “what’s reasonable in urban landscapes.” Indeed, a new study from northern Botswana has found that elephants traveling from Chobe National Park to the nearby Chobe River will use corridors as small as 10 feet wide to traverse newly urbanized areas.

Urban areas now increasingly recognize that it’s cheaper to protect clean water by buying up natural habitat both within their own borders and at the source, instead of installing expensive technology to purify it after the fact. It’s not just about New York City purchasing huge chunks of the Catskills. North Carolina’s Clean Water Management Trust Fund, for instance, has also protected 500,000 acres of watershed and riverside habitat over the past 20 years — with enormous incidental benefits for wildlife.

Cities have begun to recognize the value of protecting wildlife within their own borders. Singapore, for instance, has increased its natural cover to almost half its land area over the past 30 years, even as its human population has doubled. Its Central Catchment Nature Reserve has become one of the last refuges of the straw-headed bulbul, a bird once common across Southeast Asia. The government also recently announced plans to create new nature parks as habitat for the critically endangered banded leaf monkey.

Even in the absence of new parks and other habitat, city residents have rallied to their wildlife, sometimes in extraordinary fashion. In Mumbai, development-oriented politicians continue to encourage the destruction of natural habitat, particularly in the Aarey Milk Colony neighborhood abutting the city’s Sanjay Gandhi National Park. But local conservationists, together with the park itself, have launched a pioneering campaign to help densely populated neighborhoods around the park cope with more than 30 free-ranging leopards in their midst. Likewise, Los Angeles has turned its mountain lions into urban folk heroes. (The Facebook bio of the lion known as P22 begins: “Hi! I’m LA’s loneliest bachelor. I like to hang out under the Hollywood sign to try and pick up cougars. Likes: Deer, catnip, Los Feliz weekends. Dislikes: Traffic, coyotes, P-45.”)

While gas and electric transmission lines commonly divide and destroy landscapes, some utility companies have found maintenance savings (and good press) by managing these corridors as habitat, especially for pollinators and migratory birds. California’s Pacific Power & Gas, with 6,400 miles of gas transmission lines, is the latest U.S. utility to sign up with the Right of Way Stewardship Council.

Highway departments have learned that they can save money, reduce their carbon footprint, please tourists, and also help wildlife by converting roadsides and medians from grass to wildflowers. The Federal Highway Administration recently published best management practices for using roadside margins as pollinator habitat — with Florida incidentally saving $1,000 per road mile in mowing costs and Oregon reducing pesticide use by more than 25 percent.

While restoration of abandoned rail lines as habitat and hiking trails is old news, British companies have recently begun restoring habitat along active rail lines. Network Rail, which controls most of the rail lines in the United Kingdom, works with conservation groups on species from the great crested newt to the natterjack toad.

The idea of making human-dominated landscapes more wildlife-friendly dates back at least to the 1970s, when the anti-lawn movement proselytized for turning backyards into habitat. But finding ways — large and small — for wildlife to live among us has come to seem dramatically more urgent in recent years. That may be partly because in this century Homo sapiens has become a predominately urban species for the first time in history, with huge projected growth in cities and megacities. It may also be due to a series of recent studies on the implications of that growth. These studies read, at times, as if the researchers are looking up from their data and describing the end of the natural world.

Even scientists were stunned in October by the report of a mass insect die-off in Germany. That study, published in the journal PLOS One, found that over a 27-year period, from 1989 to 2016, the population of flying insects at nature reserves across Germany had collapsed, down by 76 percent overall, and 82 percent in the peak mid-summer flying season. Most of the likely causes — including habitat fragmentation, deforestation, monoculture farming, and overuse of pesticides — were factors outside the borders of these ostensibly protected areas. “We appear to be making vast tracts of land inhospitable to most forms of life,” one co-author grimly commented, “and are currently on course for ecological Armageddon.”

That came on the heels of a July report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences describing a “biological annihilation” in which “as much as 50% of the number of animal individuals that once shared Earth with us are already gone,” with likely “cascading catastrophic effects on ecosystems,” and on economic and social services “vital to sustaining civilization.” In particular, global vertebrate populations — from elephants to amphibians — declined by 58 percent from 1970 to 2012, a 2016 report noted, with losses likely to reach 67 percent by 2020. That’s two-thirds of all vertebrate animals on Earth vanished in the lifetime of a person not yet 50.

In the face of “annihilation” and “Armageddon,” emphasis on tending the margins of our lives can seem, yes, marginal. “If the focus is on degraded landscapes – roadside edges, powerline rights of way – you can find examples where these habitats are important to particular species,” says Josh Tewksbury, a conservation biologist at the University of Colorado, Boulder. “But it would be hard to find any evidence that it’s going to make a whit of difference to the big problem. It’s not going to solve 95 percent of the problem.”

Then, as a second thought, he added, “It could be the 95 percent solution for people and biodiversity,” in the sense that routinely seeing birds in a city park, or a fox running across a field, can have “big implications for how people think about the value of nature.” And changes in human attitudes about nature can have dramatic effects on the ability of wildlife to survive in human-dominated landscapes.

For instance, persistence of old cultural attitudes is the major reason wolf recovery has struggled in the U.S., despite an abundance of available land. Meanwhile, Europe, one of the most industrialized landscapes on earth, has welcomed the return of wolves even to the fringes of its largest cities — along with brown bears, lynx, bison, and other species. The surprisingly rapid recovery of such species in Europe has led to a call, as a recent commentary in the journal Conservation Letters put it, for rewilding to become “a primary component” of long-term biodiversity conservation on degraded landscapes elsewhere — even perhaps everywhere.

But caution about the potential of our cities and suburbs as wildlife habitat is probably still a good idea. One danger is that these landscapes may become “ecological sinks” — that is, places where excess individuals from undisturbed habitat can survive, but not ultimately increase. Having straw-headed bulbuls in central Singapore does not, for instance, ensure survival of the species. Success with some more visible species may also blind us to broader but less obvious declines in other species. European rewilding, for instance, has not been rewilding for its insect population.

Finally, we know almost nothing about what ecologist Meredith Holgerson at Portland State University calls “these cryptic changes happening” as humans occupy and alter a landscape. For her doctoral research at Yale University, she looked at the effects of suburbanization on wood frogs in 18 ponds in the prosperous Connecticut suburb of Madison. The area around the ponds had developed largely with two-acre zoning, allowing for survival of “pretty good red maple swamps and vernal ponds,” says David Skelly, a professor of ecology at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies who oversaw the research. But chemical analysis of the ponds demonstrated that, along with other changes, the wood frog larvae were getting as much as 70 percent of their nutrients from materials leaching out of septic systems. “It suggests,” says Holgerson, “that tadpoles and other pond organisms are made up of human waste.”

The consequences of that remain unknown. But it also suggests that we may change the entire nutrient flow of an ecosystem, cause eutrophication, or introduce hormone-disrupting drugs or other chemicals in our waste — and still imagine that we live in a relatively intact habitat.

Richard Conniff is a National Magazine Award-winning writer whose articles have appeared in The New York Times, Smithsonian, The Atlantic, National Geographic, and other publications. His latest book is "House of Lost Worlds: Dinosaurs, Dynasties, and the Story of Life on Earth." He is a frequent contributor to Yale Environment 360.

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