Endangered mouse nears ‘zero’ in southern New Mexico

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Environmentalists are asking for an independent investigation into U.S. Forest Service practices in southern New Mexico, saying hundreds of grazing violations on the Lincoln National Forest have pushed an endangered mouse closer to extinction.

The Center for Biological Diversity in its request pointed to a November report that looked at the condition of the habitat used by the New Mexico meadow jumping mouse, the connectivity between those patches of habitat and how long the tiny rodent has been missing from those areas. The report indicated that the mouse’s population in one stretch of southern New Mexico was near zero.

Robin Silver, a cofounder of the group, wrote in a letter sent last week to Forest Service Chief Vicki Christiansen that local and regional forest officials have failed to issue any noncompliance letters to ranchers who graze in the area despite more than 330 instances in which cattle were found in locations that had been fenced off for the mouse.

“We’re witnessing an extinction in progress,” Silver said in statement sent to The Associated Press. “We hope an inspector general’s investigation can shed more light on this tragic situation and give these adorable little mice a fighting chance at survival.”

While it’s unclear whether forest officials will consider the request, regional agency spokesman Shayne Martin said Thursday that several projects have been dedicated to establishing critical habitat for the mouse and looking at what strategies might work best over the long-term to bolster the population.

“What I can say is that our agency has put significant scientific research behind all actions taken, to include restoration of critical riparian areas for all species,” Martin said. “We’ve also worked closely with ranchers to ensure that grazing in these areas follows adaptive management measures that considers the full array of human and environment effects.”

The mice live near streams and depend on tall grass to hide from predators. They hibernate for about nine months, emerging in the late spring to gorge themselves before mating, giving birth and going back into hibernation. They normally live about three years.

The latest study aims to set the stage for long-term habitat planning for the mouse. So far, the focus has been on improving those patches of habitat that are considered healthier and have more potential for supporting the mouse.

The research suggests that efforts start with patches immediately adjacent to those areas already occupied by the mouse and then address the occupied patches before moving outward. The report states any successful long-distance dispersal by the rodents to colonize new meadows would be extremely unlikely.

Biologists say growing mouse numbers is a challenge because of the small population they have to start with and the lack of more suitable habitat.

Three decades ago, the mice were found at 17 locations in the Sacramento Mountains on the Lincoln National Forest. Now, it’s just one. The report noted that the downward trajectory of the population continued in 2020.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 2016

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Report: Endangered Mouse Nears ‘Zero’ in Southern New Mexico | New Mexico News

By SUSAN MONTOYA BRYAN, Associated Press

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Environmentalists are asking for an independent investigation into U.S. Forest Service practices in southern New Mexico, saying hundreds of grazing violations on the Lincoln National Forest have pushed an endangered mouse closer to extinction.

The Center for Biological Diversity in its request pointed to a November report that looked at the condition of the habitat used by the New Mexico meadow jumping mouse, the connectivity between those patches of habitat and how long the tiny rodent has been missing from those areas. The report indicated that the mouse’s population in one stretch of southern New Mexico was near zero.

Robin Silver, a cofounder of the group, wrote in a letter sent last week to Forest Service Chief Vicki Christiansen that local and regional forest officials have failed to issue any noncompliance letters to ranchers who graze in the area despite more than 330 instances in which cattle were found in locations that had been fenced off for the mouse.

“We’re witnessing an extinction in progress,” Silver said in statement sent to The Associated Press. “We hope an inspector general’s investigation can shed more light on this tragic situation and give these adorable little mice a fighting chance at survival.”

While it’s unclear whether forest officials will consider the request, regional agency spokesman Shayne Martin said Thursday that several projects have been dedicated to establishing critical habitat for the mouse and looking at what strategies might work best over the long-term to bolster the population.

“What I can say is that our agency has put significant scientific research behind all actions taken, to include restoration of critical riparian areas for all species,” Martin said. “We’ve also worked closely with ranchers to ensure that grazing in these areas follows adaptive management measures that considers the full array of human and environment effects.”

The mice live near streams and depend on tall grass to hide from predators. They hibernate for about nine months, emerging in the late spring to gorge themselves before mating, giving birth and going back into hibernation. They normally live about three years.

The latest study aims to set the stage for long-term habitat planning for the mouse. So far, the focus has been on improving those patches of habitat that are considered healthier and have more potential for supporting the mouse.

The research suggests that efforts start with patches immediately adjacent to those areas already occupied by the mouse and then address the occupied patches before moving outward. The report states any successful long-distance dispersal by the rodents to colonize new meadows would be extremely unlikely.

Biologists say growing mouse numbers is a challenge because of the small population they have to start with and the lack of more suitable habitat.

Three decades ago, the mice were found at 17 locations in the Sacramento Mountains on the Lincoln National Forest. Now, it’s just one. The report noted that the downward trajectory of the population continued in 2020.

The U.S.

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Computer mouse movements may reveal appetite for risk-taking

Nov. 24 (UPI) — A person’s proclivity for risk-taking can be sussed out of the subtle movements of a computer mouse, according to a new study published Tuesday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

For the study, researchers tracked the movement of the computer mouse as study participants selected between two possible gambling bets, one safe and one risky.

How participants moved their mouse prior to making their selection allowed researchers to accurately predict how the participants would respond to similar risk choices.

The researchers found participants who moved their mouse toward the safe bet before selecting the riskier play were more risk-averse than their choice suggested.

Similarly, participants who nudged the mouse in the direction of the risky bet before playing it safe were found be surprisingly willing to take on risk.

“We could see the conflict people were feeling making the choice through their hand movements with the mouse,” said lead study author Paul Stillman said in a news release.

“How much their hand is drawn to the choice they didn’t make can reveal a lot about how difficult the decision was for them,” said Stillman, who conducted the research while earning a doctorate degree in psychology at Ohio State University.

Typically, single gambling decisions have relatively little predictive value. But when researchers analyzed cursor movements, they were able to more accurately predict the willingness of participants to take risks during subsequent gambling scenarios.

The mouse tracking data showed some users dragged their cursor directly to one choice or the other, suggesting some degree of confidence in their choice, while others were more hesitant, as revealed by their slow-moving mouse.

“Choice data is not very useful for many purposes. You don’t know the strength of a person’s preference or how close they were to making the other choice,” said study co-author Ian Krajbich.

“And that’s what the mouse-tracking measure can give us,” said Krajbich, an associate professor of psychology and economics at Ohio State.

After studying the mouse movement data, researchers successfully predicted which of those who had taken the safe bet would make a riskier decisions during followup bets.

“We could very nicely differentiate between people, even when they made the same choice,” said Stillman, now a postdoctoral researcher at Yale University. “It gives us a much richer picture of risk aversion and loss aversion in people.”

Stillman and Krajbich also instructed some participants to contemplate their gambling decisions like a stock trader would consider trades, worrying less about individual wins and losses and more about building a successful portfolio.

“When we told them to think like a trader, we could see from the mouse tracking that they were less conflicted when they accepted gambles and more conflicted when they rejected them — just as we would expect,” Krajbich said.

The researchers suggest their approach could be used to study the decision making of phone users by analyzing scrolling patterns.

“What we’re measuring is a physical manifestation of hesitation. Anything like that, such

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