Short-eared dog? Uncovering the secrets of one of the Amazon’s most mysterious mammals
by Jeremy Hance
Fifteen years ago, scientists knew next to nothing about one of the Amazon’s most mysterious residents: the short-eared dog (Atelocynus microtis). Although the species was first described in 1883 and is considered the sole representative of the Atelocynus genus, biologists spent over a century largely in the dark about an animal that seemed almost a myth. But all this changed when veterinarian and researcher, Renata Leite Pitman, embarked on a long-term study of these enigmatic carnivores, even having the good fortune of being guided by a semi-wild short-eared dog named Oso.
"My first thought when I heard about this ghost-like animal was that people must have been mistaking it for a similar-looking species, like a tayra or a jaguarundi," Leite Pitman told mongabay.com. "So I looked into the literature on the short-eared dog and found it was full of contradictions. One book had it occurring in this region, the other didn’t. One said the species was diurnal, and the other nocturnal. This mismatching information made me very curious,"
In fact, here was a good-sized mammal—a carnivore nonetheless—that was totally unheard of outside the Amazon and even little-known by locals there.
How will Dutch prey animals react on the wolf?
When the wolf settles in The Netherlands again, after being absent for over 150 years, how will prey animals such as red deer react? This situation is being simulated in National Park Veluwezoom in The Netherlands, by laying down wolf feces and register the reaction of red deer.
The research is done by capturing the behaviors of the prey animals by trap cameras. In Poland, the same research has been done with the exact same techniques. The research in The Netherlands can show a difference in the result of the research in Poland, because in Poland, wolves have already returned for quite a while.
Here are the first wolf pups in the Cascade Mountains since the 1940s
Remember the “wandering wolf,” OR-7, who traveled from Oregon to California and back while wearing a GPS collar? The US Fish and Wildlife Service discovered that he’s now a proud dad to at least three pups, thanks to some camera trap photo!
The pups are also historic; OR-7 and his mate are the first wolves known to have bred and produced offspring in Oregon’s Cascade Mountains (which stretch from British Columbia to Northern California) since the 1940s! They’re a small, adorable conservation success story.
1: One of OR-7’s cubs
2: One of the pups, who appears to now have a GPS collar of its own
3: Two of the pups
4: Mom, a black wolf (who has not been given a formal designation)
5: And dad, OR-7, in a photo captured in May 2014
In Search of Kenya’s Elusive Wild Dogs
by Elizabeth Pennisi
Most visitors to Africa come for the lions, elephants, and rhinos. But for the tourists who helicoptered into this somewhat remote region of central Kenya last month, wild dogs topped their list. Once so common in Africa that they were shot as vermin, the elusive canines are becoming poster children for conservation: Fewer than 7000 are left in Africa, their native range.
A reporter visiting the center, I love dogs and so jumped at the chance to track some down in advance of the tourists’ arrival. It was a dusty, bumpy ride into the bush, for a fleeting view of animals that aren’t really dogs after all. But along the way, I came to appreciate their incredible story.
They are full of wanderlust, and their packs show camaraderie and coordination to rival the best military unit. Yet they are quite vulnerable, and even though several teams of researchers have dedicated large chunks of their lives following these animals, much about them remains mysterious.
Despite the name, Lycaon pictus is a distant relative of household canines. Dogs, wolves, and coyotes can all interbreed but not with wild dogs, which are sometimes called painted wolves because of their colorful and variable coat patterns…
(read more: Science News/AAAS)
photos by Stefanie Strebel and Elizabeth Pennisi
ulvenheks said: I just read that wolves have a scent gland on their tails. It's a dark spot, but is it that black tip at the end of their tails?
Wolves have a pre-caudal scent gland (also called “violet gland”) at the top of their tail, about 10 cm (4 inches) from its base and on the tip. It releases a pheromone, used to mark.
Light colored wolves often have a dark spot of fur covering the scent gland. Below is a picture of a wolf’s tail where you can clearly see this dark spot - I circled it with red. The dark tip at the end of the tail you mentioned isn’t part of the scent gland.
Many domesticated dogs have vestigial pre-caudal glands. In how far these are developmed depends on the specific dog breed. Both wolves and dogs smell each other to locate identifying scents which come from both the anal glandsand pre-caudal glands.
Wolf Populations are Unfazed by Individual Breeder Deaths
by Brian Stallard
General wolf population numbers surprisingly appear unaffected by the occasional death of key breeders. Even while these deaths might mean the end of specific packs, researchers have found that recovering wolf populations somehow compensate for brief losses.
In a surprising number of classic Disney movies, the main characters appear to persevere even in the absence of parents long dead or simply not in the picture. This Bambi-eske phenomenon has surprisingly been seen for general wolf populations as well, in which the death of head mother and father wolves barely affect overall population numbers, despite the potential dissolution of a pack.
Black-backed Jackal (female and puppies at a den)
The black and silver saddle marking on its back gives to the African Black-backed Jackal, Canis mesomelas (Canidae), its distinctive appearance and name.
This species is one of the few mammals that has a long-term mate, and both male and female parents take part in the rearing and feeding of young.
Mating occurs anytime between May and August. Gestation lasts approximately 60 days; litter size at birth averages around 4 pups, but commonly only 1-3 survive. A pup becomes sexually mature at 11 months and can live up to 8 years in the wild.
The social unit usually consists of the two parents and their young. The only exception is when multiple jackals hunt in large packs. Pups usually follow the parents out of the den at 3 months and are on their own within a year
Photo credit: ©Jaco Marx | Locality: Mashatu Game Reserve, Botswana
The Fox and the Wolf: an Unlikely Duo
by Brian Stallard
Scientists have found evidence that indicates that a resurgence of wolf populations in North America could be suppressing the dominance of coyote populations, allowing for red foxes to gain the upper hand in a long-observed rivalry.
According to a study published in the Journal of Animal Ecology, fur trapping records across North America indicate that red fox populations are on the rise where growing wolf populations are present.
For wolf-claimed regions such as Alaska, Yukon, Nova Scotia, and Maine, this data is demonstrating what researchers from the Oregon State University Department of Forest Ecosystems and Society are calling the “wolf effect.”
The wolf effect shows how the presence and absence of wolves in a region can affect two other primary predators, coyotes and red foxes.
Photo by Zechariah Judy