+
upworthy
Science

Ecologist 'burst into tears' seeing endangered gliders using boxes designed to save them

A third of the greater gliders' remaining habitat was destroyed in the Australian wildfires, and researchers didn't know if their high-tech box idea would work.

greater gliders, endangered species, Australia, wildlife

Greater gliders are endangered in Australia and rely on old-growth tree hollows to make their nests.

When a team of Australian researchers started checking the high-tech boxes they'd installed to help save endangered greater gliders, they weren't sure what they were going to find. The hope was that the tree-dwelling marsupials would use them for nesting—a replacement for the tree hollows they normally nest in—but no one knew whether or not the creatures would take to them.

So when Dr. Kita Ashman, Threatened Species and Climate Adaptation Ecologist at WWF-Australia, found a glider in the second box she checked, she was thrilled.

"I just burst into tears, I was so surprised and so happy," she told ABC News Australia.


Greater gliders are nocturnal marsupials that live in old-growth forests of eastern Australia. They have large ears, fluffy fur, long tails, and they can glide up to 100 meters at a time. The species is only found in Australia.

"I grew up looking at greater gliders all throughout the Dandenong Ranges. So they have a really special place in my heart," said Dr. Ashman told ANU.

The special nesting boxes were designed and created through a partnership between Australian National University (ANU), Greening Australia and the World Wide Fund for Nature-Australia after bushfires destroyed a third of the greater gliders' remaining habitat. The tree hollows that greater gliders rely on to nest can take over 100 years to form, according to ANU, so it's not like they can just find some new trees to live in when their homes are destroyed.

Nesting boxes that are commonly used for wildlife aren't a good fit for greater gliders, as the thin walls and lack of thermal protection can result in gliders overheating. (Heat-stressed gliders will slow their eating, which can be life-threatening, according to ANU.) The high-tech boxes in this project are insulated and include a non-toxic, heat-reflective, fire-resistant coating to keep gliders safe.

"I've affectionately been calling this design the Goldilocks box because we hope it will keep greater gliders not too hot and not too cold and will help to increase the species' resilience in a changing climate," Ashman said in July 2022.

"Producing and installing high-quality nest boxes is costly," added ANU research fellow Dr. Kara Youngentob, "so this project is very important because it will help us understand if expensive interventions like nest boxes are the best use of funding in our urgent mission to save greater gliders."

It appears that their efforts are paying off.

"What we didn't know was whether these boxes worked and whether they have an impact on the glider population," Dr. Youngentob told ABC News Australia. "Much to our delight, within a few months of them going up they are already being used by gliders, so we know the individuals themselves like them and use them."

According to Youngentob, greater gliders are the largest gliding marsupial at risk of extinction. More than 200 nesting boxes have been installed in Victoria's East Gippsland and in Tallaganda National Park in New South Wales. Youngentob told ABC News Australia that this project will help researchers learn more about how many of the species are left in the wild.

The quiet, nocturnal marsupial faces threats from climate change and deforestation in addition to the wildfires that ravaged Australia in 2020. Their population has fallen by 80% in the past 20 years and the species reached endangered status in July of 2022.

"They're a treasure for this country." Dr. Youngentob told ANU. "And I think the more people know about them, the more that they will fall in love with them and want to protect them too."

All GIFs and images via Exposure Labs.


Photographer James Balog and his crew were hanging out near a glacier when their camera captured something extraordinary.

They were in Greenland, gathering footage from the time-lapse they'd positioned all around the Arctic Circle for the last several years.

Keep ReadingShow less

A woman working out at the gym wearing headphones.

In 2018, author James Clear released “Atomic Habits,” a book about making significant changes through building small habits. The book's takeaway is that you don’t have to commit to drastic, overnight changes to improve yourself. You can do so by slowly working your way towards a goal.

"All big things come from small beginnings,” Clear writes in the book. “The seed of every habit is a single, tiny decision. But as that decision is repeated, a habit sprouts and grows stronger. Roots entrench themselves and branches grow. The task of breaking a bad habit is like uprooting a powerful oak within us. And the task of building a good habit is like cultivating a delicate flower one day at a time."

TikTokker Ashie Adams has a similar theory she calls the Lazy Girl Fitness hack. She says people can create a regular fitness routine by breaking a trip to the gym down into 2 distinct events instead of one that feels overwhelming.

Keep ReadingShow less

Jimmy Carter at the COmmonwealth Club.

Jimmy Carter, 99, was the 39th president of the United States (1977 to 1981). Looking back on his achievements both in and out of office, it’s easy to say that he was a man ahead of his time. He was far ahead of the mainstream when it came to advocating for social justice, human rights, and the environment.

Carter famously installed solar panels on the White House in 1979, only to have them removed by Ronald Reagan.

The former peanut farmer and Navy Lieutenant from Plains, Georgia, was also far ahead of his time when supporting gay rights. In 1976, while running for president, he said he would sign the Equality Act, an amendment to the 1964 Civil Rights Act that would prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation. “I will certainly sign it, because I don’t think it’s right to single out homosexuals for special abuse or special harassment,” he said.

Keep ReadingShow less
Photo by David Clode on Unsplash

Creator shares strange animal facts, weirds people out with jacana bird

Sometimes we see things that simply cannot be unseen. TikTok creator Mamadou Ndiaye who goes by the screen name mndiaye_97, has made his career out of educating people about weird animal facts that he finds fascinating. In most of his videos people walk away feeling more knowledgable on what animals to stay away from and which are actually as cuddly as they look.

But sometimes his videos makes the internet collectively gasp as they hear these untold facts. Recently, Ndiaye shared a video about the Jacana bird, who at first glance looks like an average bird with abnormally large feet. Viewers quickly realize the video is taking an hilariously uncomfortable turn when the next fact he drops involves a picture of the bird appearing to have eight sets of legs. Or maybe claws? No matter what it resembles, it's what nightmares are made of.

One viewer called it, "Birdie Kruger," and they're not wrong because the facts about this bird just kept getting more disturbing.

Keep ReadingShow less
Joy

Woman sets up an adorable 'date night' with her elderly dog

More than 1.5 million have watched the dog's unforgettable birthday dinner.

Representative Image from Canva

Spoil your pets every chance you get.

It’s one of the most bittersweet experiences that life has to offer—watching our fur babies grow old. No matter how much time we are blessed with such lovely creatures, it’s never enough time.

But, even during our pet’s golden years, when energy wanes and things tend to slow down, we can still spoil them and give them the greatest life possible. And if you’re in need of some inspo—or just a good reason to have a happy cry—look no further.

Dog mom Vicki had the brilliant idea of giving her elderly, but still so handsome Lab the most adorable ‘date night’ for his 16th birthday. He even got his own tux!

Keep ReadingShow less

Artist's apartment gains protected status after his death

You move into an apartment and can't wait to decorate it however you'd like but unfortunately you're pretty limited on what you can do. Most apartments don't approve anything that can't be easily removed, some don't even allow you to paint. One man in England decided that he was going to make his apartment his own by decorating it with his artwork.

Ron Gittins was an artist that lived in the same apartment for over 30 years before his death. During his time in the apartment, the artist had created art all over the walls. Not just elaborate paintings but huge sculptures affixed to the walls that took up the wall's entirety. His family visited the home after Gittins passed away, they were shocked to find such massive elaborate art pieces throughout the home.

The artist died in September 2019 according to CNN, but if you stepped into the home now, you'd see everything still in its place.

Keep ReadingShow less