Panama  PANAMÁ 30/04/2020

White-faced capuchin monkeys come down from the trees on Panama's Coiba Island

A group of intrepid biologists was surprised to find that capuchin monkeys spent so much time on the ground there

Crossing a 23-kilometer stretch of ocean from mainland Panama to Coiba, the largest offshore island in the Eastern Pacific, a group of intrepid biologists hoped to find species never reported there before. But in addition to discovering new species, the 2015 Coiba BioBlitz crew was surprised to find that capuchin monkeys spent so much time on the ground there.

 
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Argentina  ARGENTINA 24/04/2020

Fossil frogs offer insights into ancient Antarctica

The fossils, which belong to the family of helmeted frogs, are described in 'Scientific Reports'

The discovery of the earliest known modern amphibians in Antarctica provides further evidence of a warm and temperate climate in the Antarctic Peninsula before its separation from the southern supercontinent, Gondwana. The fossils, which belong to the family of helmeted frogs, are described in Scientific Reports this week.

 
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Panama  PANAMÁ 15/04/2020

Bocas dolphins may be more sociable while we shelter in place

A study of dolphin behavior in the presence of tourist boats informs conservation efforts

Wild animals are changing their behavior as the coronavirus puts the world in lockdown: pumas stroll the streets of Boulder, Colorado and dolphins frolic along the beaches of Lima, Peru, replacing the usual bobbing crowd of surfers. At the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute’s Bocas del Toro Research Station in Panama, researchers are sharing new results about dolphin behavior with and without tourist boats, giving us some clues about how dolphins may be experiencing the world as humans shelter in place.

 
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Brazil  BRASIL 09/04/2020

New fossil from Brazil hints at the origins of the mysterious tanystropheid reptiles

New species named after Tolkien's Aragorn hints at early southern evolution for these reptiles

A new species of Triassic reptile from Brazil is a close cousin of a mysterious group called tanystropheids, according to a study published April 8, 2020 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Tiane De-Oliviera of the Federal University of Santa Maria, Brazil and colleagues.

 
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Brazil  BRASIL 08/04/2020

How does habitat fragmentation affect Amazonian birds?

Four decades of research provide some answers

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Perú  PERú 27/03/2020

Coral tells own tale about El Niño's past

Rice, Georgia Tech study in Science reveals Pacific temperatures over a millennium

There is no longer a need to guess what ocean temperatures were like in the remote tropical Pacific hundreds of years ago. The ancient coral that lived there know all. A study in Science led by Rice University and Georgia Tech researchers parses the record archived by ancient tropical Pacific coral over the past millennium. That record could help scientists refine their models of how changing conditions in the Pacific, particularly from volcanic eruptions, influence the occurrence of El Niño events, which are major drivers of global climate.

 
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Colombia  COLOMBIA 23/03/2020

Pablo Escobar's hippos may help counteract a legacy of extinctions

Study from international team of researchers including UMass Amherst biologist John Rowan shows introduced species can restore a lost world

When cocaine kingpin Pablo Escobar was shot dead in 1993, the four hippos he brought to his private zoo in Colombia were left behind in a pond on his ranch. Since then, their numbers have grown to an estimated 80-100, and the giant herbivores have made their way into the country's rivers. Scientists and the public alike have viewed Escobar's hippos as invasive pests that by no rights should run wild on the South American continent.

 
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Argentina  ARGENTINA 11/03/2020

Remote South American kelp forests surveyed for first time since 1973

Kelp forest ecosystems at Tierra del Fuego remain relatively unchanged over 45 years

In the kelp forests of Tierra del Fuego, at the southernmost tip of South America, the relative abundance of kelp, sea urchins, and sea stars has not changed significantly since 1973. Alan Friedlander of the National Geographic Society's Pristine Seas project and colleagues present these findings in the open-access journal PLOS ONE on March 11, 2020.

 
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Brazil  BRASIL 05/03/2020

Tropical forests' carbon sink is already rapidly weakening

The ability of the world's tropical forests to remove carbon from the atmosphere is decreasing

The ability of the world's tropical forests to remove carbon from the atmosphere is decreasing, according to a study tracking 300,000 trees over 30 years, published today in Nature. The global scientific collaboration, led by the University of Leeds, reveals that a feared switch of the world's undisturbed tropical forests from a carbon sink to a carbon source has begun.

 
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Panama  PANAMÁ 25/02/2020

Microplastics are new homes for microbes in the Caribbean

Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) looked at how marine microbial communities colonize microplastics in Panama

With 5 trillion pieces of plastic in the oceans, the dynamics of marine environments are shifting in ways that are yet to be discovered. Over time discarded plastics, such as sandwich bags and flip-flops, have degraded into small particles, called microplastics, which are less than 5 mm long. Kassandra Dudek, a former Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) fellow and doctoral student at Arizona State University, looked at how marine microbial communities colonize microplastics in Panama.

 
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Mexico  COAHUILA 19/02/2020

Rules of life: From a pond to the beyond

The Cuatro Cienagas Basin is an invaluable place for researchers to study and understand how life may have existed on other planets in our solar system

The Cuatro Cienegas Basin, located in Chihuahuan Desert in Mexico, was once a shallow sea that became isolated from the Gulf of Mexico around 43 million years ago. This basin has an unusual characteristic of being particularly nutrient-poor and harboring a 'lost world' of many below-ground and above-ground aquatic microbes of ancient marine ancestry.

 
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Argentina  ARGENTINA 14/02/2020

Researchers discovered a new species of carnivorous dinosaur that inhabited Patagonia 90 million years ago

The new species, named as Tralkasaurus cuyi, is much smaller than the carnivorous dinosaurs

The new species, named as Tralkasaurus cuyi, is much smaller than the carnivorous dinosaurs from the abelisaurus theropods group known until now. It measured about four meters and it was found at the northwest of Río Negro province.

 
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Panama  PANAMÁ 13/02/2020

Nitrogen-fixing trees help tropical forests grow faster and store more carbon

Planting fixers could benefit reforestation and climate mitigation plans

Tropical forests are allies in the fight against climate change. Growing trees absorb carbon emissions and store them as woody biomass. As a result, reforestation of land once cleared for logging, mining, and agriculture is seen as a powerful tool for locking up large amounts of carbon emissions throughout the South American tropics.

 
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Venezuela  VENEZUELA 13/02/2020

Extinct giant turtle had horned shell of up to three meters

Exceptional specimens of the extinct turtle recently found in new locations across Venezuela and Colombia

The tropical region of South America is one of the world's hot spots when it comes to animal diversity. The region's extinct fauna is unique, as documented by fossils of giant rodents and crocodylians -including crocodiles, alligators, caimans and gavials - that inhabited what is today a desert area in Venezuela. Five to ten million years ago, this was a humid swampy region teeming with life. One of its inhabitants was Stupendemys geographicus, a turtle species first described in the mid-1970s.

 
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Perú  PERú 10/02/2020

El Niño contributes to insect collapse in the Amazon

Hotter and drier El Niño events are having an alarming effect on biodiversity in the Amazon Rainforest and further add to a disturbing global insect collapse

Hotter and drier El Niño events are having an alarming effect on biodiversity in the Amazon Rainforest and further add to a disturbing global insect collapse, scientists show. A new study focusing on the humble, but ecologically key, dung beetle has revealed for the first time that intense droughts and wildfires during the last El Niño climate phenomenon, combined with human disturbance, led to beetle numbers falling by more than half - with effects lasting for at least two years.

 
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Argentina  ARGENTINA 06/02/2020

An invasive flatworm from Argentina found across Europe

Citizen science reveals the presence of the flatworms in gardens in three quarters of metropolitan France

One of the consequences of globalization is the inadvertent human-mediated spread of invasive species. The presence of a new invader, named Obama nungara, is reported in France by an international team led by Jean-Lou Justine of ISYEB (Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle, Paris, France). This is the first study of this invasion, reported in an article published in the open-access journal PeerJ.

 
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Brazil  BRASIL 06/02/2020

Trees in the Amazon are time capsules of human history

Tropical trees reveal the impacts of native culture as well as the scars of colonial occupation

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Panama  PANAMÁ 30/01/2020

Jaguars could prevent a not-so-great American Biotic Exchange

Urban and agricultural development and deforestation along the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor might be generating a new passageway for invasive species adapted to human disturbance

For the first time, coyotes (Canis latrans) and crab-eating foxes (Cerdocyon thous) are occurring together. According to a recent study by researchers at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) and collaborating institutions, deforestation along the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor may be the reason why canid species from North and South America ended up living side by side in eastern Panama, far from their original ranges.

 
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Panama  PANAMÁ 03/01/2020

Why do some male bats have sticky, odorous arms?

The first clues only led to more questions. But now a new sleuth, Mariana Muñoz-Romo, described by a colleague as “probably the world’s expert on chemical communication in a bat species,” is on the case
Mariana Muñoz-Romo uncaps a clear plastic tube and waves it under my nose. The contents, a bit of dry, yellow paste called a forearm crust, collected from a male bat, smells vaguely like incense.

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Panama  PANAMÁ 17/12/2019

The universe of fungi that inhabit plants

How do microorganisms influence seed survival in the forest?

When he first arrived at the research station on Barro Colorado Island (BCI) as a postdoctoral student, Camilo Zalamea never imagined that he would work in Panama for eight years. The Colombian botanist loves to observe things calmly and, as plants do not move around, they allow him to do exactly that. Now, in addition, he has fallen in love with microorganisms. Without them, he confesses, we cannot fully understand how forests work.

 
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