To save a species, check its ID
New tool differentiates endangered salt marsh harvest mouse from abundant look-alike
(Press-News.org) It's hard to save what you can't identify. That's been a problem for the endangered salt marsh harvest mouse, which is found only in the salty, brackish waters of the San Francisco Bay area. The mouse competes for space with about eight million humans, and more than three-quarters of its habitat has been eaten by development and land conversion. That loss is expected to increase amid rising sea levels.
Conserving the population has proven tricky, in part because it looks so much like another mouse in the area--the western harvest mouse--that is abundant throughout western U.S.
But scientists from UC Davis have developed a tool, a "decision tree," that has been able to differentiate the doppelgängers with up to 99% accuracy, without the need for genetic analysis.
"If people misidentify the species, they have a false impression that they're doing well," said Mark Statham, a researcher with the Mammalian Ecology and Conservation Unit within the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine.
The tool is described in a study published this month in a special issue of the journal California Fish and Wildlife.
BAY AREA HOUSING SHORTAGE
There are two distinct subspecies of salt marsh harvest mice -- a southern subspecies in south and central San Francisco Bay and a northern subspecies in the San Pablo and Suisun bays. Both look very similar to the non-endangered western harvest mouse.
Of the two, the southern is most vulnerable to climate change and habitat conversion. It relies on salt marshes, which are on the edge of the bay and feeling the pinch with sea level rise. Northern populations have more habitat and room to migrate upslope with climate change. But in the south bay, marsh land runs into urban areas, leaving southern salt marsh harvest mice with limited housing options.
MICE BELLIES TELL A TAIL
The study looked specifically at the southern population of mice. The researchers trapped and collected genetic samples and physical measurements from 204 harvest mice from across the southern mouse's population range. About one-quarter were salt marsh harvest mice while the remainder were western harvest mice.
The researchers then used machine learning to determine which characteristics were most helpful in setting the species apart. They found that the color of the mice's bellies and tail hair could best differentiate the endangered mouse from the western harvest mouse.
The red belly of the southern salt marsh harvest mouse is particularly striking. It's even part of the species' scientific name, Reithrodontomys raviventris. The "raviventris' component means "red belly."
"It is a bit of a misnomer because most animals within the species have a white belly, particularly those within the northern subspecies," Statham said. "So, it was never clear how useful this was for identifying the species. It turns out that it is one of two really useful characters for identifying the southern salt marsh harvest mouse."
Statham said this improved method could help efforts to conserve and recover the population of this mouse that is home only in the San Francisco Bay.
"Now field researchers can go in the field and identify the animal immediately," Statham said. "Without something like this, you don't really know what you've got."
The study was conducted in collaboration with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife with funding from the U.S. Fish Wildlife Service.
[Attachments] See images for this press release:
ELSE PRESS RELEASES FROM THIS DATE:
Researchers from the Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) Interdisciplinary Research Group (IRG) at Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology (SMART), MIT's research enterprise in Singapore, alongside collaborators from Biobot Analytics, Nanyang Technological University (NTU) and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), have successfully developed an innovative, open-source molecular detection method that is able to detect and quantify the B.1.1.7 (Alpha) variant of SARS-CoV-2. The breakthrough paves the way for rapid, inexpensive surveillance of other SARS-CoV-2 variants in wastewater.
As the world continues to battle and contain COVID-19, the recent identification of SARS-CoV-2 variants with higher transmissibility and increased severity has made the development ...
COLUMBUS, Ohio - The parasites that cause severe malaria are well-known for the sinister ways they infect humans, but new research may lead to drugs that could block one of their most reliable weapons: interference with the immune response.
In the study, scientists defined the atomic-level architecture of the connection between a protein on the surface of a parasite-infected red blood cell when it binds to a receptor on the surface of an immune cell.
When that protein-receptor connection is made under normal circumstances, the infected red blood cell, hijacked by the disease-causing parasite, de-activates the immune cell - meaning the body won't fight the infection. A drug designed to fit into that space could block the interaction, allowing the immune system to get to work clearing ...
LA JOLLA, CA--You can't make a banana split without bananas. And you can't generate stable regulatory T cells without Vitamin C or enzymes called TET proteins, it appears.
Regulatory T cells (Tregs) help control inflammation and autoimmunity in the body. Tregs are so important, in fact, that scientists are working to generate stable induced Tregs (iTregs) in vitro for use as treatments for autoimmune diseases as well as rejection to transplanted organs. Unfortunately, it has proven difficult to find the right molecular ingredients to induce stable iTregs.
Now scientists at La Jolla Institute for Immunology ...
DALLAS, July 21, 2021 -- Babies who were breastfed, even for a few days, had lower blood pressure as toddlers and these differences in blood pressure may translate into improved heart and vascular health as adults, according to new research published today in the Journal of the American Heart Association, an open access journal of the American Heart Association.
Research has found that cardiovascular disease risk factors, including high blood pressure, can start in childhood. Studies have also confirmed breastfeeding is associated with lower cardiovascular disease risk in adulthood. However, the amount and length of time breastfeeding that is needed ...
DALLAS, July 21, 2021 -- People who made even small increases in their daily physical activity levels after receiving an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) experienced fewer incidences of hospitalization and had a decreased risk of death, according to new research published today in Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes, an American Heart Association journal.
Implantable cardioverter defibrillators, also known as ICDs, are battery-powered devices placed under the skin that can detect abnormal heart rhythms and deliver an electric shock to restore a normal heartbeat. According to American Heart Association's Heart Disease ...
An international collaboration elucidates the mechanisms that facilitate accurate identification of moving images. The findings have been published in Nature Communications
Imagine meeting a friend on the street, and imagine that with every step they take, your visual system has to process their image from scratch in order to recognize them. Now imagine if the same thing were to happen for every object and creature that moves around us. We would live in a constant state of uncertainty and inconsistency. Luckily, that is not the case. Our visual system is able to retain information obtained in motion, thereby presenting us with a more consistent picture of our surroundings. These ...
Older adults may be slower to learn actions and behaviours that benefit themselves, but new research shows they are just as capable as younger people of learning behaviours that benefit others.
Researchers at the Universities of Birmingham and Oxford found that youngsters, in contrast, tend to learn much faster when they are making choices that benefit themselves.
The study, published in Nature Communications, focused on reinforcement learning - a fundamental type of learning in which we make decisions based on the positive outcomes from earlier choices. It allows us to adapt our choices to our environment by learning the associations between choices and their outcomes.
Dr Patricia Lockwood is senior author on ...
Every day, people are exposed to a variety of synthetic chemicals through the products they use or the food they eat. For many of these chemicals, the health effects are unknown. Now END ...
New research published in the European Journal of Clinical Investigation identifies cardiovascular test results that might help to identify patients hospitalized with COVID-19 who face an especially high risk of dying.
Out of 1,401 patients with a confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19 admitted to seven Italian centers, 226 (16.1%) underwent transthoracic echocardiography within 48 hours of admission. In-hospital death occurred in 68 patients (30.1%). Low left ventricular ejection fraction, low tricuspid annular plane systolic excursion, and acute respiratory distress syndrome were independently associated with in-hospital mortality.
Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) is the most common leukemia in the Western world. New research published in the Journal of Leukocyte Biology reveals that certain protein markers may indicate which patients have stable forms of CLL and which have more aggressive types.
Identifying these proteins may not only help determine patients' prognoses but also point to potential therapeutic targets for investigators who are searching for new CLL treatments.
"The results offer a meaningful biological approach into the protein composition of CLL cells at an early stage of the disease, when the clinical characteristics of patients are similar and the course of the disease is difficult to predict. ...
LAST 30 PRESS RELEASES:
[Press-News.org] To save a species, check its ID
New tool differentiates endangered salt marsh harvest mouse from abundant look-alike