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Beautiful work!
MaryBeth


On Mon, Feb 10, 2014 at 12:47 PM, Jennifer Landin <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> Fantastic painting, Mike! Really wonderful.
>
>
> On Mon, Feb 10, 2014 at 11:03 AM, Michael Rothman <
> [log in to unmask]> wrote:
>
>> Hi everyone,
>> Here is a link to the Mongabay online article featuring my recent
>> painting of the Samoan tooth-billled pigeon.   The work will be used as
>> part of the conservation effort being undertaken as part of an effort to
>> preserve the remaining population and associated forest habitats.   The
>> bird is the Samoan National Bird and is an important cultural element.
>>  (The painting was completed just this past October).
>>
>> Cheers,
>> Mike R.
>>
>>
>> http://news.mongabay.com/2014/0210-hance-little-dodo-drones.html
>>
>> On edge of extinction, could drones and technology save the Little Dodo? *Little
>> dodo baby found: conservationists boosted by discovery that species is
>> breeding*
>>
>>  [image: Detail of new painting highlighting the Manumea or little dodo.
>> Painting by: (c) Michael Rothman 2013.]
>> *Detail of new painting highlighting the Manumea or little dodo. Painting
>> by: (c) Michael Rothman 2013.*
>>
>>  Almost nothing is known about the little dodo, a large, archaic,
>> pigeon-like bird found only on the islands of Samoa. Worse still, this
>> truly bizarre bird is on the verge of extinction, following the fate of its
>> much more famous relative, the dodo bird. Recently, conservationists
>> estimated that fewer than 200 survived on the island and maybe far fewer;
>> frustratingly, sightings of the bird have been almost non-existent in
>> recent years. But conservation efforts were buoyed this December when
>> researchers stumbled on a juvenile little dodo hanging out in a tree. Not
>> only was this an important sighting of a nearly-extinct species, but even
>> more so it proved the species is still successfully breeding. In other
>> words: there is still time to save the species from extinction.
>>
>> "This is the first time breeding has been recorded in over 10 years,"
>> says biologist Rebecca Stirnemann, who has been working with Samoa's birds
>> birds since 2010 and is spearheading efforts to learn more about the
>> imperiled species using wildlife drones and the latest in tagging
>> technology.
>>
>> "Everyone had questioned whether the bird still existed. Now we know it
>> is still alive," added Moeumu Uili with the Samoan Ministry of Natural
>> Resources and Environment (MNRE). "One of the team, Fialelei, went outside
>> to hang his wet clothes on the line and heard a noise that attracted his
>> attention. He looked up to the tree and saw a bird sitting up high on one
>> of the tree branches. We got our binoculars and camera, and started looking
>> for the hooked bill which is the bird's distinguishing feature. I started
>> taking as many pictures as I could before the bird flew off. A closer look
>> using binoculars and we knew we had found it, the rare Manumea."
>>
>> *A bird of many names*
>>
>> The little dodo actually goes by many names. Locally, it's known as the
>> Manumea and despite its cryptic, almost invisible nature, the species is
>> Samoa's state bird, even appearing on its currency. Globally, it's also
>> known as the tooth-billed pigeon and has even been called the "dodlet." Not
>> to mention, of course, its Latin name: *Didunculus strigirostris*.
>>
>>
>> * [image: A juvenile Manumea found in December of last year. Photo by:
>> Moeumu Uili.]A juvenile Manumea found in December of last year. Photo by:
>> Moeumu Uili. *  The number of names reveals its distinctiveness: the
>> Manumea is the only surviving member of the genus *Didunculus*, which in
>> Latin means "little dodo." A genetics study in 2002, found that the little
>> dodo or Manumea is the most basal member of the dodo's relatives, both
>> living and extinct.
>>
>> "[It] is the most ancestral (least derived) member of this group," Beth
>> Shapiro, the lead author of the study, explains. "It shared a common
>> ancestor with all the other individuals in that group--and was the earliest
>> to diverge from that common ancestor."
>>
>> Shapiro speculates that the Manumea could have evolved over 60 million
>> years ago, noting that "pigeons as a whole are a very old group, and the
>> timing of their diversification is not well known."
>>
>> The little dodo is characterized by a sharply curved beak with two
>> tooth-like structures on the bottom, a blue head and chest, and dark-red
>> wings. Photos tend to show a crouched, bulky, brooding bird that looks like
>> a cross between a vulture and a dinosaur.
>>
>> "The Manumea is a big forest pigeon, about the size of a chicken, with an
>> amazingly large bright red beak. That is the first thing you see when you
>> come upon one," says Stirnemann. "We see them very rarely so it is always
>> very exciting. They can cover large distances quite fast so following them
>> is very difficult. Their speed is surprising since they do not look like
>> they are designed for flight, they have short wings, short tail and a round
>> bulky body. I have now heard them call a few times. The call is a mix of a
>> cow 'moo' and a pigeon 'coo,' rather endearing."
>>
>> *Conservation in an information vacuum*
>>
>> [image: Detail of new painting showing off a little dodo in flight.
>> Painting by: (c) Michael Rothman 2013.]
>> *Detail of new painting showing off a little dodo in flight. Painting by:
>> (c) Michael Rothman 2013.*
>>
>> Stirnemann began working with the Ma'oma'o or Mao (*Gymnomyza samoensis*),
>> a large forest honeyeater in Samoa, but soon got interested in the even
>> more imperiled Manumea (*Didunculus strigirostris*) as well. However,
>> she quickly found that in order to move forward at all, they were going to
>> have to start from scratch.
>>
>> "There is so much information which we need to know to save this species.
>> For instance no Manumea nests have ever been recorded in the scientific
>> literature," Stienemann told mongabay.com. "Therefore we do not know if
>> the nest is on the ground and at risk from pigs or high up in a tree and
>> being predated by introduced black rats. This means we don't know which
>> invasive pest species is causing the decline of chicks and thus management
>> to protect nests cannot occur."
>>
>>
>> * [image: Researchers looking for birds in Samoa. Photo courtesy of
>> Rebecca Stirnemann.]Researchers looking for birds in Samoa. Photo courtesy
>> of Rebecca Stirnemann. *  For the time being, captive breeding is out as
>> well. Stirnemann says researchers aren't even sure what little dodo chicks
>> eat. They also don't know how large Manumea territories area.
>>
>> "At the moment if we see one bird one side of the island and have a
>> second Manumea sighting on the other side of the island, we do not know if
>> they are the same bird traveling a long distance or if it is likely to be
>> two birds, with each bird is only using a small area," she notes.
>>
>> In order to begin to piece together the private lives of little dodos,
>> Stirnemann has crafted an ambitious plan: employ small drones and the
>> latest tracking technology to be the first scientists to ever track a
>> Manumea's day.
>>
>> "The Samoan forest is beautiful and lush. The plants grow fast and form a
>> dense understory. Walking though this beautiful forest involves quite a lot
>> of chopping and is quite slow," she explains. "The Manumea on the other
>> hand, flies over the tops of the trees and within a minute is over the
>> gully in front of the people on the ground. Tracking a Manumea is therefore
>> rather difficult. Drones will allow us to also fly over the forest and the
>> gullies, to get close enough to download the GPS information from the
>> Manumea and determine where it has been."
>>
>> Stirnemann plans to use new tracking tags developed by Microsoft that can
>> be read by high-flying drones.
>>
>> "On sensing a weak signal from one postage-stamp-sized tag fixed to an
>> animal, a drone can fly towards the creature on autopilot and retrieve the
>> tag's data," she says.
>>
>>
>> * [image: Photograph of live Manumea in 1901. Photo by: Augustin
>> Kramer.]Photograph of live Manumea in 1901. Photo by: Augustin Kramer. * The data retrieved from the tiny tags and drones could be key to saving the
>> species from extinction. Once researchers have an idea of the little dodo's
>> habitat needs, territorial size, and nesting strategies they will be able
>> to begin crafting a real conservation plan. And maybe, just maybe, there is
>> still time for the little dodo to avoid the big dodo's end.
>>
>> But they still have to catch a Manumea to tag it.
>>
>> "Catching Manumea will be tricky since they are so rare," she says.
>> "However luckily we have recordings of Manumea calls, we will use these
>> calls as a lure to draw them into canopy mist nets. These nets go as high
>> as 26 meters into the canopy. We also now know which trees Manumea are
>> feeding in and when these trees are fruiting so setting up a net near these
>> feeding trees should net us a bird."
>>
>> The discovery of the juvenile in December, however, may already present
>> conservationists with a clue about what the little dodo needs and why it's
>> nearing extinction.
>>
>> "[The juvenile] was found in the lowland forest," explains Moeumu Uili.
>> "Little lowland forest remains in Samoa and this discovery suggests it is
>> very important habitat for this species we now must work with the
>> communities to get there support and preserve this special area."
>>
>> If scientists can confirm that Manumeas depend on lowland forest, it may
>> spur efforts to save what's left and perhaps consider plans for
>> reforestation.
>>
>> *The funding gap*
>>
>> [image: Scientists hope these stuffed Manumeas won't be the only thing
>> left of the species in future decades. Photo courtesy of Rebecca
>> Stirnemann.]
>> *Scientists hope these stuffed Manumeas (including juvenile on top) won't
>> be the only thing left of the species in future decades. Photo courtesy of
>> Rebecca Stirnemann.*
>>
>> But it's not easy to save a species that is almost unheard of outside
>> Samoa, a species that doesn't exactly follow the usual tropes of beauty,
>> but instead goes its own route, evolutionarily-speaking. Stirnemann says
>> the effort to save the Manumea, and Samoa's last lowland forests, still
>> requires many champions. She says the project could use help building a
>> local conservation group and increased media coverage. She adds that the
>> team is interested in producing a documentary about their work, but needs a
>> filmmaker.
>>
>> "We would also love to create a children's book on the species to build
>> support in Samoa and explain to younger generations the importance of their
>> native environment," she adds.
>>
>>
>> * [image: A living adult little dodo or Manumea. Photo by: Ulf Beichle.]A
>> living adult little dodo or Manumea. Photo by: Ulf Beichle. *  Like all
>> small conservation projects, the efforts to save the little dodo from
>> extinction needs one thing most of all: funding. Last year the conservation
>> work was funded by the Rufford Conservation trust, MBZ conservation grant
>> and Conservation Leadership grant, but Stirnemann says the group is hoping
>> to begin crowd source funding from the public this year.
>>
>> "One of the most critical things we need is the funds to hire local
>> staff, a project car and pay for technology needed to track this species
>> needs to be gathered before time runs out," says Stirnemann.
>>
>> And, even with the happy discovery of a juvenile little dodo, there is no
>> question that time is running out. The bird's current trajectory is clear:
>> in the 1980s there were likely 4,000-7,000 Manumeas left, but by the
>> mid-2000s only a few hundred remained. Today, it's less then 200.
>>
>> "As with any unique lineage, its extinction would result in the loss of
>> biodiversity," says geneticist Shapiro. "It is not closely related to any
>> other species, so this would be a huge amount of evolutionary change,
>> gone."
>>
>> *The little dodo comes to life in art*
>>
>> [image: Micheal Rothman's Manumeas in Samoa. Painting by: (c) Michael
>> Rothman 2013.]
>> *Micheal Rothman's Manumeas in Samoa. Painting by: (c) Michael Rothman
>> 2013. *
>>
>> But as people are hearing about the bird--and its unmistakable nearness to
>> extinction--help has been forthcoming. Last year, U.S. artist Micheal
>> Rothman, got in touch with Stirnemann and offered to give the endangered
>> species its artistic due.
>>
>> "Upon hearing that no good photos of the Manumea in the wild exist,
>> [Rothman] volunteered to paint a forest scene of the Manumea to show people
>> what could be lost," she says. "He under took considerable research to make
>> sure the picture was an accurate example of Samoan forest. This involved
>> measuring Manumea skins (from the 1800s right through specimens collected
>> during the Whitney South Sea Expediton of 1923) in the American History
>> Museum of Natural History as well as research into the trees and plants of
>> the Samoan forest."
>>
>>
>> * [image: A second photo of the juvenile Manumea in December. Photo by:
>> Moeumu Uili.]A second photo of the juvenile Manumea in December. Photo by:
>> Moeumu Uili. *  The beautiful painting, which features not one but four
>> Manumeas, finally allows these remarkable birds to take center stage. In
>> Rothman's heavily-researched work, Manumeas fly and feed with abandon in a
>> pristine Samoan forest.
>>
>> "His picture will be used to inspire the conservation of this species,"
>> explains Stiremann. "It will also be used to show local people the Manumea
>> so they can help us find new birds."
>>
>> But the paintings impact will hopefully go even beyond Samoa, giving the
>> Manumea a larger profile internationally. In fact, the painting will be
>> featured at the New York State Museum's Focus on Nature XIII Exhibition
>> from April to October.
>>
>> "My reason for doing the Manumea painting stems from my longstanding
>> interest in conservation biology in general, coupled with my field
>> experiences in Samoa in particular, and my desire to continue to produce
>> artwork with a useful purpose 'in the world,'" Rothman told mongabay.com.
>> "The extinct dodo of Mauritius has always been a species of wonder for me,
>> and the Manumea, being the dodo's closest living relative phylogenetically,
>> has a similar attraction. Since the Manumea still exists and by can by
>> definition, be the subject of a coordinated conservation effort, my
>> participation through the creation of related artwork seemed natural to
>> me."
>>
>> Without the hard work of conservation champions like Stirnemann, Rothman,
>> Uili, and many others working locally with the bird, the Manumea,
>> tooth-billed pigeon, or little dodo would likely vanish into cold
>> extinction without a whimper. With their dedication, however, it's possible
>> to imagine that this strange bird can persist long enough to craft a
>> well-informed conservation plan and gather several more champions. In this
>> scenario, the outlook will be sunny for one of the world's weirdest and
>> rarest animals.
>>
>> [image: Illustration of the little dodo from the 19th Century likely
>> based on stuffed specimens. By: John Gould.]
>> *Illustration of the little dodo from the 19th Century likely based on
>> stuffed specimens. By: John Gould.*
>>
>> [image: Black and white illustration of the little dodo or Manumea. By:
>> Gustav Mützel/1882.]
>> *Black and white illustration of the little dodo or Manumea. By: Gustav
>> Mützel/1882.*
>>
>>
>>
>>
>>
>>
>>
>>
>>
>>
>>
>>
>>
>>
>>
>>
>>
>>  *Related articles*
>>
>> *Extinction warning: racing to save the little dodo from its cousin's
>> fate <http://news.mongabay.com/2013/0304-hance-little-dodo.html>*
>>
>>  (03/04/2013) Sometime in the late 1600s the world's last dodo perished
>> on the island of Mauritius. No one knows how it spent its final
>> moments--rather in the grip of some invasive predator or simply fading away
>> from loneliness--but with its passing came an icon of extinction, that final
>> breath passed by the last of its kind. The dodo, a giant flightless pigeon,
>> was a marvel of the animal world: now another island ground pigeon, known
>> as the little dodo, is facing its namesake's fate. Found only in Samoa,
>> composed of ten islands, the bird has many names: the tooth-billed pigeon,
>> the Manumea (local name), and Didunculus ("little dodo") strigirostris,
>> which lead one scientist to Christen it the Dodlet. But according to recent
>> surveys without rapid action the Dodlet may soon be as extinct as the dodo.
>>
>>
>> *How hunters have become key to saving Bulgaria's capercaillie
>> <http://news.mongabay.com/2014/0204-dimitrova-capercaillie-bulgaria.html>*
>>
>>  (02/04/2014) Surprising clatter cuts through the silence in the snowy
>> forest shortly before sunrise. The powerful clicking sounds like a dropping
>> Ping-Pong ball before culminating in a loud pop resembling the opening of a
>> champagne bottle. This sound is heard clearly and far. Propped on a thick
>> pine tree branch, with a peacock-fanned tale, relaxed wings and head
>> pointing skyward, a western capercaillie is singing. The song terminates
>> with a low-frequency sound similar to scraping a fork to the bottom of a
>> frying pan. It's exactly during those last few moments of singing that
>> something unusual happens: the male bird goes temporarily deaf. Hence the
>> species' common name in Bulgarian--deaf bird.
>>
>>
>> *Over 75 percent of large predators declining
>> <http://news.mongabay.com/2014/0109-hance-big-predator-decline.html>*
>>
>>  (01/09/2014) The world's top carnivores are in big trouble: this is the
>> take-away message from a new review paper published today in Science.
>> Looking at 31 large-bodied carnivore species (i.e those over 15 kilograms
>> or 33 pounds), the researchers found that 77 percent are in decline and
>> more than half have seen their historical ranges decline by over 50
>> percent. In fact, the major study comes just days after new research found
>> that the genetically-unique West African lion is down to just 250 breeding
>> adults.
>>
>>
>> *Reversing local extinction: scientists bring the northern bald ibis back
>> to Europe after 300 years
>> <http://news.mongabay.com/2013/1202-leonardo-northern-ibis.html>*
>>
>>  (12/02/2013) The northern bald ibis (Geronticus eremita), also called
>> the hermit ibis or waldrapp, is a migratory bird. Once, the bald ibis lived
>> in the Middle East, northern Africa and southern and central Europe, but
>> due to hunting, loss of habitat and pesticide-use, the birds disappeared
>> from most of these areas and is currently considered Critically Endangered.
>> It became extinct in Europe 300 years ago; the bird is almost gone in
>> Syria, with only a single individual recorded at the country's lone
>> breeding site in 2013; and the only stronghold left is a small population
>> of around 500 birds in Morocco. But now, a team of scientists from Austria
>> is working to reestablish a self-sustaining, migratory population of bald
>> ibis in Europe.
>>
>>
>> *Scientists discover new cat species roaming Brazil
>> <http://news.mongabay.com/2013/1127-hance-new-cat-brazil.html>*
>>
>>  (11/27/2013) As a family, cats are some of the most well-studied animals
>> on Earth, but that doesn't mean these adept carnivores don't continue to
>> surprise us. Scientists have announced today the stunning discovery of a
>> new species of cat, long-confused with another. Looking at the molecular
>> data of small cats in Brazil, researchers found that the tigrina--also known
>> as the oncilla in Central America--is actually two separate species. The new
>> species has been dubbed Leopardus guttulus and is found in the Atlantic
>> Forest of southern Brazil, while the other Leopardus tigrinus is found in
>> the cerrado and Caatinga ecosystems in northeastern Brazil.
>>
>>
>> *Leatherback sea turtle no longer Critically Endangered
>> <http://news.mongabay.com/2013/1125-hance-leatherback-vulnerable.html>*
>>
>>  (11/26/2013) The leatherback sea turtle--the world's largest turtle and
>> the only member of the genus *Dermochelys*--received good news today. In
>> an update of the IUCN Red List, the leatherback sea turtle (*Dermochelys
>> coriacea*) has been moved from Critically Endangered to Vulnerable.
>> However, conservationists warn that the species still remains hugely
>> endangered--and in rapid decline--in many parts of its range.
>>
>>
>>
>>
>>
>>
>> ________________________________________________
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>
>
>
> --
> Jennifer Landin, Ph.D.
> Department of Biological Sciences
> 114 David Clark Labs
> NC State University
> Box 7617, Raleigh NC 27695
> 919-513-0241
> www4.ncsu.edu/~jmlandin
>
> ________________________________________________
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