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Tag: Michael Douglas

The Plight of the Greater Prairie Chicken

In the mid 1800s, the greater prairie chicken numbered in the millions on the tall-grass prairies of Illinois. Its distinctive hooting moan was the sound track for early spring mornings, and signified the elaborate rituals of reproduction were again in bloom. The male greater prairie chicken puts it all on the line to attract a mate. It performs a rapid stutter-step dance and puffs out the large orange air sacks on its neck to create a characteristic “booming” call. It raises two neck tufts straight up, spreads its tail feathers, and droops its wings as it rushes to and...

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Biologists Find the Arizona Black Rattlesnake on ‘Extinction Trajectory’

Micheal and Marlis Douglas A combination of drought and fire has put the Arizona black rattlesnake on an “extinction trajectory,” according to University of Arkansas researchers. The research team, led by U of A biologists Marlis Douglas and Michael Douglas, published its findings in the journal Royal Society Open Science. The researchers recommend that the rattlesnake be designated as “threatened” under the federal Endangered Species Act. This would allow the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to develop regulatory protections adjusted to the needs of the species. The Arizona black rattlesnake is found at higher elevations in Arizona and western...

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Reassessing Those Rattlers

There are more species of rattlesnake slithering around western North America than previously thought. That’s the conclusion of a new study conducted by University of Arkansas biologists Michael Douglas and Marlis Douglas and their colleagues at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Western Kentucky University. The researchers published their findings in the journal PLOS One. The research team, using head shapes and genetic analyses, recommend that six groups of subspecies of the western rattlesnake be elevated to full species status, with the following names: Crotalus viridis, prairie rattlesnake Crotalus oreganus, northern Pacific rattlesnake Crotalus cerberus, Arizona black rattlesnake...

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Studying the Stutter-Steppers

The Attwater’s prairie chicken was in the news recently. Its population in Texas has dropped to alarmingly low levels, reflecting a downward trend of prairie chicken numbers across the central United States. Here’s video of the male Attwater’s prairie chicken’s courtship display, recorded by the Houston Zoo. Reading an article in The New York Times about the Attwater’s prairie chicken reminded me of a University of Arkansas connection to the wild bird. Some background: In Illinois, an estimated 14 million greater-prairie chickens were stutter-stepping on their display grounds in the 1800s. By the end of the 20th century, their numbers...

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These Whiptails? No Males

There are female lizards reproducing without male partners in North America, especially in the U.S. southwest and northern Mexico. Scientists know that it started through hybridization between certain species, but they don’t understand the nature of the mechanism that causes the asexual reproduction. The phenomenon occurring in about a dozen species of whiptail lizards is called parthenogenesis, reproduction that is common among invertebrate species, such as insects, but has been observed in very few of the many thousands of vertebrate species. Because there are no males that would provide sperm to fertilize the eggs in parthenogenesis, all the offspring...

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