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Great Fox: Endangered British spider seen for first time in 27 years 

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great fox endangered british spider seen for first time in 27 years

One of Britain’s most endangered spiders, the Great Fox, has been sighted for the first time in more than a quarter of a century. 

Conservationists report the sighting of 22 Great Fox spiders in total, including 10 mature males and one mature female, which measures just over two inches (55mm) in diameter including its hairy, spiny legs. 

The specimens were found on a Ministry of Defence (MoD) training area in Surrey by Mike Waite, spider enthusiast at Surrey Wildlife Trust. 

The Great Fox (alopecosa fabrilis) is listed as ‘critically endangered’ and was feared extinct in the UK as it hadn’t been spotted since 1993. 

The species has excellent eyesight, camouflage and speed and is an opportunistic predator that hunts at night, the Trust says. 

It is named for its fox-like habit of chasing down prey across sandy terrain, gravel and rocks before pouncing and capturing it on the run. 

Prey, including insects such as beetles, ants and smaller spiders, are immobilised after the Great Fox injects them with venom, which liquefies their internal organs. 

Great Fox-Spiders have excellent eyesight with wrap-around vision provided by eight black eyes on its head. Pictured, one of the males

Great Fox-Spiders have excellent eyesight with wrap-around vision provided by eight black eyes on its head. Pictured, one of the males

Great Fox-Spiders have excellent eyesight with wrap-around vision provided by eight black eyes on its head. Pictured, one of the males

22 GREAT FOX SPIDERS FOUND IN SURREY

22 Great Fox spiders were found in total:

Three females 

– One adult female measuring just over two inches (55mm) in diameter.

– Two immature females.

19 males

– 10 adult males

– Nine immature males.

The specimens were found in August and September this year on different visits, around the same location.

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The spider is then ready to feast on its catch using its strong, fang-bearing front appendages called chelicerae. 

Waite had never given up hope that he might find the monster spider and spent hours late at night searching with a torch over the last two years.  

The specimens were finally found on MoD land managed by the Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Trust. 

‘The spider is at the very edge of its range in the UK, which accounts for its super rarity here,’ said Waite. 

‘This formidable-looking creature is an impressive beast, perfectly camouflaged and also largely nocturnal, and for all its size it has been remarkably elusive.

‘I am naturally over the moon to have finally proved the continued existence of the Great Fox spider in the UK. 

‘Although I’ve always held a latent interest in spiders, as a bona-fide arachnologist, I am still a relative newbie, so am doubly pleased to have made this important contribution to our scientific knowledge.’ 

The species, which is ground dwelling and largely nocturnal, is one of the largest of the wolf spider Lycosidae family. 

For shelter, it digs burrows or holes under rocks and logs and make a silk-lined burrow as a retreat for the winter. 

In all, 22 spiders were found, including the one large mature female and 10 mature males. 

Jo Foat at Surrey Wildlife Trust told MailOnline: ‘Males have a slightly smaller body and longer legs but are the same size.

Pictured, the mature female. In all, 22 spiders were found, including the large mature female and 10 mature males

Pictured, the mature female. In all, 22 spiders were found, including the large mature female and 10 mature males

Pictured, the mature female. In all, 22 spiders were found, including the large mature female and 10 mature males

Pictured, Mike Waite from Surrey Wildlife Trust in search of the Great Fox spider, which was last sighted  in 1993

Pictured, Mike Waite from Surrey Wildlife Trust in search of the Great Fox spider, which was last sighted  in 1993

Pictured, Mike Waite from Surrey Wildlife Trust in search of the Great Fox spider, which was last sighted  in 1993

‘The Great Fox spider is big and bulky in terms of the size of its body and thickness of legs. 

‘It’s about the same size as a giant house spider but this has a smaller body and longer skinnier legs.’ 

Great Fox spiders have excellent eyesight with wrap-around vision thanks to eight incredible black eyes on their head, or cephalothorax.

Two large eyes glint from the top of the head, another two eyes stare out the front and four smaller eyes form a row just above the spider’s mouth. 

‘The prefix “Great” doesn’t seem to do it justice – maybe it should be the Fabulous, or Fantastic Fox-Spider,’ said Nick Baker, naturalist, TV presenter and president of the British Arachnological Society.

Pictured, another male. The Great Fox-Spider is Red-listed as ‘Critically Endangered’ and was feared extinct in the UK as it had only ever been found at three sites, two in Dorset and the other in Surrey, but hadn’t been seen since the early 1990s

Pictured, another male. The Great Fox-Spider is Red-listed as ‘Critically Endangered’ and was feared extinct in the UK as it had only ever been found at three sites, two in Dorset and the other in Surrey, but hadn’t been seen since the early 1990s

Pictured, another male. The Great Fox-Spider is Red-listed as ‘Critically Endangered’ and was feared extinct in the UK as it had only ever been found at three sites, two in Dorset and the other in Surrey, but hadn’t been seen since the early 1990s

‘Even if the back story of its rarity and its rediscovery wasn’t taken into count, this spider is mega. 

‘It’s about as handsome as a spider gets, it’s big and now it’s officially a member of the British fauna again. 

The rediscovery of the Great Fox spider is indeed the most exciting thing to happen in wildlife circles for quite some time. Glad it’s in safe hands.’   

The species had only ever been found at three sites – two in Dorset and one in Surrey – but hadn’t been seen again until 2020.  

Waite now plans to continue his study to gauge the size of the Great Fox population.  

Mature female. The species is ground dwelling and largely nocturnal but Mike Waite, spider enthusiast at Surrey Wildlife Trust, had never given up hope that he might find the monster spider

Mature female. The species is ground dwelling and largely nocturnal but Mike Waite, spider enthusiast at Surrey Wildlife Trust, had never given up hope that he might find the monster spider

Mature female. The species is ground dwelling and largely nocturnal but Mike Waite, spider enthusiast at Surrey Wildlife Trust, had never given up hope that he might find the monster spider

Mature female. With excellent eyesight, camouflage and speed, the Great Fox-Spider Alopecosa fabrilis is one of the largest of the Wolf-Spider Lycosidae family of spiders

Mature female. With excellent eyesight, camouflage and speed, the Great Fox-Spider Alopecosa fabrilis is one of the largest of the Wolf-Spider Lycosidae family of spiders

Mature female. With excellent eyesight, camouflage and speed, the Great Fox-Spider Alopecosa fabrilis is one of the largest of the Wolf-Spider Lycosidae family of spiders

Mature female. Not only incredibly agile and fast running, Great Fox-Spiders have excellent eyesight with wrap-around vision provided by eight black eyes on its head, or cephalothorax

Mature female. Not only incredibly agile and fast running, Great Fox-Spiders have excellent eyesight with wrap-around vision provided by eight black eyes on its head, or cephalothorax

Mature female. Not only incredibly agile and fast running, Great Fox-Spiders have excellent eyesight with wrap-around vision provided by eight black eyes on its head, or cephalothorax

Male. Great Fox-Spiders immobilize their prey, including insects such as beetles, ants and smaller spiders, by injecting them with venom, which liquifies the internal organs of the insect

Male. Great Fox-Spiders immobilize their prey, including insects such as beetles, ants and smaller spiders, by injecting them with venom, which liquifies the internal organs of the insect

Male. Great Fox-Spiders immobilize their prey, including insects such as beetles, ants and smaller spiders, by injecting them with venom, which liquifies the internal organs of the insect

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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Climate change could bring the start of Autumn forward by almost a week

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climate change could bring the start of autumn forward by almost a week

The start of autumn could begin a week sooner in the future due to climate change causing trees to capture more carbon and drop their leaves earlier in the year. 

For decades scientists expected temperate trees would shed their leaves gradually later in the year – making autumn later as average temperatures rise worldwide.

Early observations seem to show this was happening over the past few decades – driving a longer growing season that could held slow the rate of climate change. 

However, a new, large-scale study of European trees by the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology has found this trend has started to reverse and leaves are falling earlier.  

The new discovery means instead of autumn starting up to three weeks later, it will start between three and six days earlier over the course of the century.

Early observations seem to show this was happening over the past few decades - driving a longer growing season that could held slow the rate of climate change.

Early observations seem to show this was happening over the past few decades - driving a longer growing season that could held slow the rate of climate change.

Early observations seem to show this was happening over the past few decades – driving a longer growing season that could held slow the rate of climate change.

The presence of leaves on deciduous trees marks the changing of the seasons – and the period of time in which trees store carbon from the air.

Warning winters cause spring leaves to emerge earlier and it a widespread example of a climate-change impact, according to the team behind the study. 

The timing of when the leaves fall is harder to spot. There might be limits to how much greenhouse gas a tree can use or store in a single year, explained Dr Zani.

If all carbon needs are met, leaves might fall earlier rather than later in the autumn. 

Changes in the growing-season of trees greatly affect global carbon balance, Zani explained, but it is difficult to predict future patterns.

This is due to the fact that the environmental drivers of leaf ageing aren’t well understood by scientists. 

Autumn shedding in temperate regions like the UK is an adaptation to stressors – such as cold weather and a common assumption is that if you warm the air up this would allow leaves to persist for longer and fix more atmospheric carbon. 

Dr Zani and colleagues used long-term observations from dominant Central European tree species from 1948 to 2015 and experiments designed to modify carbon uptake to evaluate the related impacts. 

The study showed an increased growing-season in spring and summer due to more CO2, light and higher temperatures will lead to earlier leaf shedding – not later.

This is likely because roots and wood cease to use or store leaf-captured carbon at a point – making leaves costly to keep.

The researchers used the data to build a model to improve autumn prediction under a business-as-usual climate scenario – that is one where no efforts are made to slow the rate of climate change by keeping global average temperature from rising.

The model forecasts the possibility of autumn leaf-dropping dates becoming earlier over the rest of the century rather than later – as previously assumed.

However, a new, large-scale study of European trees by the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology has found this trend has started to reverse and leaves are falling earlier

However, a new, large-scale study of European trees by the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology has found this trend has started to reverse and leaves are falling earlier

However, a new, large-scale study of European trees by the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology has found this trend has started to reverse and leaves are falling earlier

Dr Zani said: ‘Changes in the growing-season lengths of temperate trees greatly affect biotic interactions and global carbon balance.

‘Yet future growing-season trajectories remain highly uncertain because the environmental drivers of autumn leaf deterioration are poorly understood.’

Accounting for increases in spring and summer productivity due to rising carbon uptake improved the accuracy of predictions by up to 42 per cent.

‘These findings demonstrate the critical role of sink limitation in governing the end of seasonal activity and reveal important constraints on future growing-season lengths and carbon uptake of trees,’ said Zani.

The results ‘substantially lower our expectations of the extent to which longer growing seasons will increase seasonal carbon uptake in forests,’ she added.

 

The presence of leaves on deciduous trees marks the changing of the seasons - and the period of time in which trees store carbon from the air.

The presence of leaves on deciduous trees marks the changing of the seasons - and the period of time in which trees store carbon from the air.

The presence of leaves on deciduous trees marks the changing of the seasons – and the period of time in which trees store carbon from the air.

The researchers pointed out the universality of this pattern in other forest types remains unknown – they can only say for certain it applies to temperate regions.

They note an important next avenue of research is implementing such growing-season length constraints across a wider range of systems. 

Dr Christine Rollinson, a tree scientist at The Morton Arboretum in Illinois, who was not involved in the study, said it shows the forest is not a bottomless carbon sink.

‘Thus, whereas trees and forests remain one solution for mitigating the impacts of climate change, they cannot be the sole means of response.

‘A diverse portfolio of actions that include emissions reductions and tree conservation and planting is essential to mitigate anthropogenic carbon emissions and climate change.’

The findings have been published in the journal Science

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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Climate change could bring the start of Autumn forward by almost a week

Published

on

By

climate change could bring the start of autumn forward by almost a week

The start of autumn could begin a week sooner in the future due to climate change causing trees to capture more carbon and drop their leaves earlier in the year. 

For decades scientists expected temperate trees would shed their leaves gradually later in the year – making autumn later as average temperatures rise worldwide.

Early observations seem to show this was happening over the past few decades – driving a longer growing season that could held slow the rate of climate change. 

However, a new, large-scale study of European trees by the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology has found this trend has started to reverse and leaves are falling earlier.  

The new discovery means instead of autumn starting up to three weeks later, it will start between three and six days earlier over the course of the century.

Early observations seem to show this was happening over the past few decades - driving a longer growing season that could held slow the rate of climate change.

Early observations seem to show this was happening over the past few decades - driving a longer growing season that could held slow the rate of climate change.

Early observations seem to show this was happening over the past few decades – driving a longer growing season that could held slow the rate of climate change.

The presence of leaves on deciduous trees marks the changing of the seasons – and the period of time in which trees store carbon from the air.

Warning winters cause spring leaves to emerge earlier and it a widespread example of a climate-change impact, according to the team behind the study. 

The timing of when the leaves fall is harder to spot. There might be limits to how much greenhouse gas a tree can use or store in a single year, explained Dr Zani.

If all carbon needs are met, leaves might fall earlier rather than later in the autumn. 

Changes in the growing-season of trees greatly affect global carbon balance, Zani explained, but it is difficult to predict future patterns.

This is due to the fact that the environmental drivers of leaf ageing aren’t well understood by scientists. 

Autumn shedding in temperate regions like the UK is an adaptation to stressors – such as cold weather and a common assumption is that if you warm the air up this would allow leaves to persist for longer and fix more atmospheric carbon. 

Dr Zani and colleagues used long-term observations from dominant Central European tree species from 1948 to 2015 and experiments designed to modify carbon uptake to evaluate the related impacts. 

The study showed an increased growing-season in spring and summer due to more CO2, light and higher temperatures will lead to earlier leaf shedding – not later.

This is likely because roots and wood cease to use or store leaf-captured carbon at a point – making leaves costly to keep.

The researchers used the data to build a model to improve autumn prediction under a business-as-usual climate scenario – that is one where no efforts are made to slow the rate of climate change by keeping global average temperature from rising.

The model forecasts the possibility of autumn leaf-dropping dates becoming earlier over the rest of the century rather than later – as previously assumed.

However, a new, large-scale study of European trees by the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology has found this trend has started to reverse and leaves are falling earlier

However, a new, large-scale study of European trees by the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology has found this trend has started to reverse and leaves are falling earlier

However, a new, large-scale study of European trees by the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology has found this trend has started to reverse and leaves are falling earlier

Dr Zani said: ‘Changes in the growing-season lengths of temperate trees greatly affect biotic interactions and global carbon balance.

‘Yet future growing-season trajectories remain highly uncertain because the environmental drivers of autumn leaf deterioration are poorly understood.’

Accounting for increases in spring and summer productivity due to rising carbon uptake improved the accuracy of predictions by up to 42 per cent.

‘These findings demonstrate the critical role of sink limitation in governing the end of seasonal activity and reveal important constraints on future growing-season lengths and carbon uptake of trees,’ said Zani.

The results ‘substantially lower our expectations of the extent to which longer growing seasons will increase seasonal carbon uptake in forests,’ she added.

 

The presence of leaves on deciduous trees marks the changing of the seasons - and the period of time in which trees store carbon from the air.

The presence of leaves on deciduous trees marks the changing of the seasons - and the period of time in which trees store carbon from the air.

The presence of leaves on deciduous trees marks the changing of the seasons – and the period of time in which trees store carbon from the air.

The researchers pointed out the universality of this pattern in other forest types remains unknown – they can only say for certain it applies to temperate regions.

They note an important next avenue of research is implementing such growing-season length constraints across a wider range of systems. 

Dr Christine Rollinson, a tree scientist at The Morton Arboretum in Illinois, who was not involved in the study, said it shows the forest is not a bottomless carbon sink.

‘Thus, whereas trees and forests remain one solution for mitigating the impacts of climate change, they cannot be the sole means of response.

‘A diverse portfolio of actions that include emissions reductions and tree conservation and planting is essential to mitigate anthropogenic carbon emissions and climate change.’

The findings have been published in the journal Science

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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SpaceX launches reusable Falcon 9 rocket booster for SEVENTH time

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spacex launches reusable falcon 9 rocket booster for seventh time

SpaceX has reused a Falcon 9 rocket for a record breaking seventh time during its most recent mission to put another 60 Starlink satellites into orbit.

It comes as the Elon Musk-owned space launch firm is preparing for the first high altitude test flight of its mammoth Starship prototype spaceship – dubbed SN8. 

Launched from Cape Canaveral in Florida at 02:13 GMT this morning, the Falcon 9 flight was the seventh time that particular first stage booster had been used.

This beat the previous record for a booster of six trips and helps Musk in his mission to bring down the cost of launching payloads from the Earth by reusing equipment.

The Falcon 9 launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida in the early hours of this morning carrying the 16th batch of Starlink satellites

The Falcon 9 launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida in the early hours of this morning carrying the 16th batch of Starlink satellites

The Falcon 9 launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida in the early hours of this morning carrying the 16th batch of Starlink satellites

SpaceX was able to recover the booster from the Atlantic Ocean using a drone flight – which means it may be able to fly for an eighth time in the future.

The booster wasn’t the only part of the Falcon 9 to be reused during this flight – that brings the total of small Starlink internet satellites up to nearly 1,000.

The fairing cover used to protect the payload had also been used before – half on one other trip and another on two different trips before this one, SpaceX confirmed.

Every time SpaceX is able to reuse a component it reduces the cost of getting material into low Earth orbit compared to using parts for the first time.

Research by the Center for Strategic and International Studies found that the average cost of putting 1kg of material in orbit on a SpaceX launch is $2,600.

In comparison, the average cost to put a 1kg object in orbit from a Russian Soyuz was $17,900 and the United Launch Alliance Delta E came in at $177,900 per kg. 

Musk is working to bring that cost down even further with each element of the Falcon 9 they are able to reuse.

Part of that drive to reuse is pushing development of the massive Starship two-stage-to-orbit fully-reusable heavy lift vehicle.

It has been under development since 2012 and is designed to bring the cost of each launch downs significantly by being fully reusable.

A single Falcon 9 launch costs about $51 million if it is reusing components that have flown before – Musk hopes to get the Spaceship launch in at $2 million per trip.

That reality could soon be a step closer as the firm is preparing to send up the latest prototype Starship SN8 on a high altitude test flight.

Musk tweeted that it has already undergone a successful static fire test and that in the next week or so it would fly up to about nine miles into the sky.

This beat the previous record for a booster of six trips and helps Musk in his mission to bring down the cost of launching payloads from the Earth by reusing equipment

This beat the previous record for a booster of six trips and helps Musk in his mission to bring down the cost of launching payloads from the Earth by reusing equipment

 This beat the previous record for a booster of six trips and helps Musk in his mission to bring down the cost of launching payloads from the Earth by reusing equipment

Space X performed the third over all static fire on Starship SN8 Thursday November 12 at its Boca Chica facility in Texas. The next stage is a high altitude test

Space X performed the third over all static fire on Starship SN8 Thursday November 12 at its Boca Chica facility in Texas. The next stage is a high altitude test

Space X performed the third over all static fire on Starship SN8 Thursday November 12 at its Boca Chica facility in Texas. The next stage is a high altitude test

The edge of space is agreed by NASA and others to be 50 miles above sea level but to go into orbit you need to get to at least 100 miles above sea level.

If this latest flight test – that will see the triple Raptor engine fire and lift the 400ft spaceship into the air – is successful, then further, higher tests will likely follow.

November 30 has been provisionally set aside as the date of the high altitude test that will see the spaceship reach the highest it has ever flown.

Musk tweeted: ‘Good Starship SN8 static fire! Aiming for first 15km / ~50k ft altitude flight next week. Goals are to test 3 engine ascent, body flaps, transition from main to header tanks & landing flip.’

The landing is one of the most important aspects – as it needs to be fully reusable to achieve the goals and price per flight set out by the SpaceX team. 

WHAT IS ELON MUSK’S ‘BFR’?

The BFR (Big F***ing Rocket), now known as Starship, will complete all missions and is smaller than the ones Musk announced in 2016.

The SpaceX CEO said the rocket would take its first trip to the red planet in 2022, carrying only cargo, followed by a manned mission in 2024 and claimed other SpaceX’s products would be ‘cannibalised’ to pay for it.

The rocket would be partially reusable and capable of flight directly from Earth to Mars.

Once built, Musk believes the rocket could be used for travel on Earth – saying that passengers would be able to get anywhere in under an hour.

44DFD4DC00000578 4933944 image a 77 1506734013996

44DFD4DC00000578 4933944 image a 77 1506734013996

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