Dutch scientists have suggested an explanation for why Dutch barnacle geese have a less active immune system once they’ve migrated to Spitsbergen, Norway than when they winter in the Netherlands. “The birds on Spitsbergen appear to invest much less energy in their immune systems, particularly general resistance to disease. Researchers suspect that this might be because there are far fewer pathogens [like bird flu] in the North than here in the Netherlands.”
With their immune systems taxed less, the geese have more energy available to reproduce and change feathers, which the Dutch birds don’t. This means that the geese appear able to adjust their immune systems according to the risk of catching a disease.
(Links: www.kijkmagazine.nl, phys.org, Photo of barnacle goose by Andreas Trepte, some rights reserved)
Tags: barnacle geese, birds, geese, migration, Spitsbergen
Biologist Maarten Loonen from Groningen figured that it might take a while before the Google Streetview cars and bikes venture deep within the Arctic circle.
His solution was to whip out the old camera and make his own “street view” of Ny-Ålesund, Spitsbergen. The round the clock daylight currently available there undoubtedly helped make the job easier. The result is a collection of 3,000 photos, according to Bright (Dutch), and a number of videos. Biologist Loonen took a picture every 10 metres inside the village and every 30 metres outside it.
Spitsbergen, meaning Craggy
Island Mountains, has a Dutch name despite being Norwegian territory because it was ‘discovered’ by Dutch explorer Willem Barentsz. He was looking for the Northern passage to the East and died trying.
(Source photos: arcticstation.nl.)
Tags: biologists, craft, maps, Spitsbergen, Streetview