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Early stress can
By Susan Milius
Among the regrettable things one might
catch from a long-term mating partner,
add the life-shortening effects of stress
Chickhood stress is bad for zebra
finches. Nestlings dosed with stress hormones tend to die earlier in adulthood
even if they enjoy plentiful food and
predator-free lab quarters after maturity.
And so do those unfortunate nestlings’
future mates, a new study finds. Zebra
finches, which form strong pair bonds,
somehow transmit their risk of stress-shortened life span to their partners.
“It’s like giving them a disease,” says
evolutionary ecologist Pat Monaghan of
the University of Glasgow in Scotland.
Working out the effects of early stress
over a lifetime requires lab experiments,
because most natural exposures to stress
usually continue into adulthood. So
Monaghan and her colleagues adminis-
tered stress hormones to chicks for about
half of their month or so as nestlings and
then gauged the long-term effects on the
treated birds and their mates.
Big fish return to no-fishing zone
Gulf of California park a model for overharvested areas
By Janet Raloff
Within 14 years of a national marine
park in Mexico’s Gulf of California closing its borders to fishing, the total mass
of its denizens more than quintupled, a
new study finds. Over the same period
the share of top predators — sentinels of
a healthy ecosystem — also soared. Both
trends countered those for fish in unprotected regions of the Gulf.
“People who object to marine
protected areas, especially to strong
protection like here, often say there is no
proof that they work,” says Elliott Norse
of the Marine Conservation Institute in
Bellevue, Wash., who was not involved in
the new study. “Well, this is the proof.”
The 71-square-kilometer Cabo Pulmo
National Marine Park sits close to where
the Gulf of California opens into the
Pacific. Since 1995, 35 percent of the
park’s waters have been off-limits to fish-
ing, but local communities informally
extended the no-take zone to the rest of
the park, says Octavio Aburto-Oropeza of
the Scripps Institution of Oceanography
in La Jolla, Calif. He and his colleagues
report their survey of the reef’s fish pop-
ulations August 12 in PLoS ONE.
meter or more long — again inhabit Cabo
Pulmo, Aburto-Oropeza says.
Sharks remain virtually absent. Owing
to heavy exploitation for the fin trade
and slow rates of reproduction, this family of predators remains rare inside Cabo
Pulmo and out, Aburto-Oropeza says.
A grouper (Mycteroperca jordani) is
among the large predators that have
returned to Cabo Pulmo National
Marine Park after a fishing ban.