Dozens Of British Species Vanishing 'At An Alarming Rate' Despite Attempts To Save Them

Some of Britain’s most endangered wildlife – from red squirrels to native crayfish – are vanishing from the countryside at an alarming rate, a report warns.A census of the most at-risk species found that dozens of plants and creatures are in serious decline, despite Government-backed attempts to protect them.

Conservationists yesterday accused politicians of failing to tackle the crisis and called on the coalition Government to carry out the parties’ election pledges on protecting wildlife.The report, from the Joint Nature Conservation Committee, revealed that 88 species are in decline, including skylarks, pearl-bordered fritillary butterflies and red squirrels.

The assessment – which looked at the fortunes of hundreds of threatened species and habitats listed on the UK Biodiversity Action Plan – found that 19 types of landscape were also suffering, including mudflats, maritime cliffs and saltmarshes.And it revealed that eight species have become extinct since the publication of the original plan in 1994, including the wryneck bird, two lichens, three moths and two beetles.However, the report also found some success in boosting wildlife, with eight habitats and 40 species said to be improving.


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Moths As Good As Mice For Many Drug Tests

moth

Moths, caterpillars and fruit flies could soon take the place of millions of mice used every year by scientists testing drugs, researchers said Tuesday. Biologists have discovered that certain key cells in mammals and insects react in the same way when attacked by infections and produce similar chemical reactions to fight them off.The findings could mean up to 80 percent of the mice used for testing new pharmaceutical compounds may no longer be needed, offering drug firms sizeable time and cost savings.

“It is now routine practice to use insect larvae to perform initial testing of new drugs and then to use mice for confirmation tests,” said Kevin Kavanagh, a biologist from the National University of Ireland, who presented his research at a Society for General Microbiology meeting in Edinburgh.

“This method of testing is quicker, as tests with insects yield results in 48 hours whereas tests with mice usually take 4 to 6 weeks. And it is much cheaper too.”

Kavanagh and his colleagues found that neutrophils, white blood cells that form part of the mammalian immune system, and haematocytes, cells that carry out similar work in insects, react in the same way to infecting microbes.
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