Picture: Chris Oosthuizen
Elephant seals have again been key to the ability of researchers to establish the source of an important secondary contribution to East Antarctica’s Cape Darnley bottom water. Antarctic bottom water is formed when cold, salty and dense water sinks and flows away from the continent in enormous volumes. It is considered an important . . . → Read More: Seals assisting science
The Australian Veterinary Association has announced that its practice management special interest group, AVAPM, will be joining forces with the Australian Veterinary Business Association (AVBA) from 1 January 2017.
Amalgamation will create the Veterinary Business Group, a new body which will become part of the AVA, and will provide support to veterinary practice managers.
“This move is an . . . → Read More: Veterinary business groups to merge
Research by an international team of scientists, published at the end of August in the journal Nature Communications, shows two regions in the genomes of Tasmanian devils (Sarcophilus harrisii) appear to be evolving in response to the fatal facial tumour disease that has ravaged populations in the wild for almost 20 years.
Evolutionary geneticist Andrew Storfer from Washington State University, and geneticist Paul Hohenlohe from the University of Idaho, compared tissue samples collected from Tasmanian devils by Menna Jones over a 17-year period. An Associate Professor and wildlife ecologist at the University of Tasmania, Jones is credited with first identifying DFTD during the mid-1990s, and she subsequently established long-term field sites to study the animals. In less than 20 years populations of devils in the wild have declined by more than 80 per cent.
Jones, who is a co-author of the paper, said two small genomic regions were identified in the recently collected DNA samples from three sites: Narawntapu in Tasmania’s north-east, West Pencil Pine in western Tasmania’s Cradle Valley, and Freycinet, on the east coast. They all exhibited significant changes in response to the strong selection imposed by the disease. Continue reading Signs shown of genetic resistance to DFTD
Adelaide Zoo has thrown a birthday party for the ninth birthday party of Fu Ni the giant panda.
The event was the female panda’s fifth birthday in Australia since arriving at Adelaide Zoo in 2009, and she was given a number of stimulating, panda-friendly treats.
Fu Ni and her counterpart male, Wang Wang, are part of an international . . . → Read More: It’s a panda party for Fu Ni
A new book by an American author poses some troubling questions for veterinarians and our profession. The book is called Run, Spot, Run: The Ethics of Keeping Pets (University of Chicago Press). Its author is Jessica Pierce, a bioethicist and writer on animal topics. For example, in Wild Justice: The Moral Lives of Animals, co-written with the famous scientist Mark Bekoff, Pierce challenged us to recognize the existence of genuine moral or ethical behavior in the nonhuman animal kingdom. This is a startling claim, because most of us assume that only human beings are capable of moral behavior. Pierce and Bekoff argued that this assumption is contradicted by scientific evidence about animal capabilities.
The challenges in Run, Spot, Run are of a different sort. Pierce aims to unsettle us – including the veterinary profession – with some difficult assertions and truths about pets and our relations with them. Indeed, she thinks there are some very thorny and deep problems inherent in the contemporary practice of pet keeping. Given that most veterinarians deal with companion animals, these claims are worth being aware of. After all, forming close relations with companion animals is really a very modern, historically late phenomenon. We are just starting to reflect on its meaning and implications. Continue reading Vet Ethics: Curly questions around wagging tails