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Weekly News Roundup 1/1 to 1/7

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UC Davis retains standing as best value among veterinary schools

The School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of California, Davis (UC Davis), continues to offer the best value among veterinary schools, based on its number-one ranking and updated financial information in the AVMA’s recently released 2020 Economic State of the Veterinary Profession, which includes data on all 30 US veterinary schools, including the debt loads of recent graduates. In the latest report, UC Davis was found to have the most optimal debt-to-income ratio, the second-least median debt, and one of the highest median starting salary of graduates. . . . more

Pandas’ popularity not protecting neighbors

Forgive Asiatic black bears if they're unimpressed by their popular giant panda neighbors. For decades, conservationists have preached that panda popularity, and the resulting support for their habitat, automatically benefits other animals in the mountainous ranges. That logic extends across the world, as animals regarded as cute, noble, or otherwise appealing drum up support to protect where they live. Yet some scientists who’ve taken a closer look at how other animals under the panda “umbrella” fare have found that several species have every reason to be ticked at panda-centric policies. . . . more

How Earth’s oddest mammal came to be so bizarre

Australia’s beaver-like platypus exhibits an array of bizarre characteristics for a mammal: it lays eggs instead of giving birth to live babies, sweats milk, has venomous spurs, and is the only animal to have 10 sex chromosomes. It has baffled scientists ever since Europeans first came upon it in the 1700s. Now, an international team of researchers led by the University of Copenhagen has conducted a unique mapping of the platypus genome and found answers regarding the origins of a few of its stranger features. “It holds the key as to why we and other Eutherian mammals evolved to become animals that give birth to live young instead of [laying eggs]—including us humans,” says Guojie Zhang, PhD, a professor in the biology department at the University of Copenhagen. . . . more

Why feral cats are such a threat to Australian wildlife

A team of researchers at the University of Tasmania has determined why feral cats are such a threat to wildlife in Australia. In a new paper, the group describes comparing the behavior of feral cats in Tasmania with a native predator—the spotted-tail quoll—and what they learned from it. Domestic cats were introduced into Australia in the late eighteenth century, and not long after, made their way to the Australian island of Tasmania. Since that time, feral cat populations have exploded, resulting in widespread threats to wildlife across the country. Prior research has shown that they kill billions of animals each year and have pushed multiple species to extinction. . . . more

Low genetic diversity in two manatee species off South America

Worldwide, marine megafauna are at risk of extinction due to climate change, habitat loss, pollution, overhunting, population fragmentation, and hybridization with related species in areas disturbed by humans. For the first time, researchers measured genetic diversity in manatees at a large geographical scale—that is, along the northern coastline of South America. They show that the Antillean subspecies of the West Indian manatee forms a single, noncontinuous population along the Brazilian coastline. . . . more

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