Posts Tagged ‘Penn State’

Honey Bee Losses Continue To Rise In U.S.

May 26, 2008

Colony Collapse Disorder, diseases, parasitic mites and other stressors continue to take a devastating toll on U.S. honey bee populations, but Pennsylvania beekeepers on average fared better than their counterparts nationally during this past winter, according to agriculture experts in Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences.

A recent survey by the Apiary Inspectors of America found that losses nationwide topped 36 percent of managed hives between September 2007 and March 2008, compared to a 31 percent loss during the same period a year earlier.

Pennsylvania fared better, with losses of about 26 percent, compared to nearly 48 percent the previous year. “About 70 percent of the state’s losses this year were not related to Colony Collapse Disorder,” said Dennis vanEngelsdorp, acting state apiarist for the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture and a Penn State senior extension associate in entomology.

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Why do whales beach themselves?

April 28, 2008

Strandings are of several types, said Susan Parks, a research associate in the Environmental Acoustics program in the Applied Research Laboratory at Penn State. Individual strandings often are caused by isolated incidents such as sickness, injury or old age. Said Parks, “Entanglement in fishing gear is one of the leading causes of mortality for marine mammals, many of which wash up on shore dead or injured.” The tide carries these whales into shallow water, depositing them on the beach.

Then there are multiple-species strandings, explained Parks. “This occurs when different species of marine mammals beach themselves at the same time and place, suggesting that they all died from the same cause,” she said.

Scientists have been researching possible causes of this phenomenon. One explanation involves the whale “pod” social structure. For instance, whales that travel in pods use a “strength in numbers” survival strategy, but this can backfire when the dominant whale runs aground. According to Parks, “The rest of the pod may follow a disoriented or sick whale onto shore.” Another theory is that pods may venture too close to the beach when hunting prey or evading predators and become trapped by low tides.

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