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New study could improve protection efforts for manta rays
These findings suggest that existing protection methods may not be as effective as previously thought.

Researchers uncover evidence of diversity within single species

A new study conducted by an international team of scientists has revealed evidence of a potential new species of manta ray and suggested improvements which could bolster protection efforts for threatened ray species around the world.

The study – published in Molecular Ecology – was co-led by Bangor University, the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, the Roslin Institute, and the Manta Trust. It provides a framework to protect manta and devil ray species threatened by targeted and bycatch fishing.

The research team collected a large, diverse bank of genetic data on ray species, gathering tissue samples from 116 individuals for DNA analysis. By comparing species scientists could then establish an evolutionary family tree. Further analysis from this family tree highlighted the possibility of a new species in the Gulf of Mexico.

Finding subtle differences in genetic make-up between populations of the same species in different geographical areas has important implications for conservation efforts.

The findings suggest that assigning protection based solely on species classification may not be as effective in protecting individuals.

The research team propose that conservation management should now be carried out within species, to account for differences between populations in different parts of the world.

Dr Emily Humble from the Roslin Institute and Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies said: “Conservation management relies on classifying diversity into discrete categories such as species or population units. For visually similar and elusive animals such as manta and devil rays, this can be challenging.

“Our study illustrates the potential for genomic techniques to capture diversity both within and between species and aid in conservation. The priority now is a formal description of the putative new species in the Atlantic.”

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World Bee Day celebrations begin

News Story 1
 Today (20 May) marks the fifth annual World Bee Day, which raises awareness of the importance of bees and pollinators to people and the planet. Observed on the anniversary of pioneering Slovenian beekeeper Anton Jana's birthday, this year's celebration is themed: 'Bee Engaged: Celebrating the diversity of bees and beekeeping systems'.

Organisations and people celebrating the day will raise awareness of the accelerated decline in pollinator diversity, and highlight the importance of sustainable beekeeping systems and a wide variety of bees. Slovenia, the initiator of World Bee Day, will be focusing on teaching young people about the significance of pollinators. 

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Further avian flu cases confirmed

Three cases of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5N1 have been confirmed in recent days, bringing the total number of cases in England to 98.

On Thursday, the APHA confirmed two cases of HPAI H5N1 near Redgrave, Mid Suffolk and Market Weston, West Suffolk. A case H5N1 was also confirmed in poultry at a premises near Southwell, Newark and Sherwood, Nottinghamshire.

Protection and surveillance zones are in place around the affected premises. Further details are available at gov.uk