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Ecology / Conservation posts

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  • January 23, 2015
  • 01:21 PM
  • 37 views

Friday Fellow: ‘Ladislau’s Flatworm’

by Piter Boll in Earthling Nature

by Piter Kehoma Boll Friday fellow is back! After almost a year, I decided to go on with it. Actually, I interrupted it because of several other activities there were requiring my attention. Now let’s move on! Today I will … Continue reading →... Read more »

  • January 23, 2015
  • 10:43 AM
  • 43 views

Dung DNA Gives Clues to the Shy Okapi's Lifestyle

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish



Try to read up on the okapi and you won't find much. This African mammal is most often seen next to the adjective "elusive." But even if we can't find any okapi, we can learn about their lifestyle through their DNA—and we can find their DNA in their feces.

The okapi is an ungulate, like a cow. Or really like a giraffe, its closest relative. It has an elegant face, a long bluish tongue, and a zebra-striped rear end. It lives in the dense rainforest of the Democratic Republic of Congo, che........ Read more »

  • January 21, 2015
  • 03:56 PM
  • 55 views

Fish, mercury, and pregnancy: Good news for seafood lovers

by Gabriel in Lunatic Laboratories

People freak out when they hear mercury is in something and sometimes for good reasons. In vaccinations for example a very small amount of ethyl-mercury WAS used as a preservative in vaccines, people got scared so now it is not used in most vaccines. Methylmercury* however is found in seafood and larger fish in particular (in much, much higher concentrations than in vaccines mind you). They may sound the same, but the methylmercury in fish is far more toxic. That said, it turns out that fish isn........ Read more »

Gutiérrez, F., & Leon, L. (2000) Elemental Mercury Embolism to the Lung. New England Journal of Medicine, 342(24), 1791-1791. DOI: 10.1056/NEJM200006153422405  

JJ Strain,, Alison J Yeates,, Edwin van Wijngaarden,, Sally W Thurston,, Maria S Mulhern,, Emeir M McSorley,, Gene E Watson,, Tanzy M Love,, Tristram H Smith,, Kelley Yost,.... (2015) Prenatal exposure to methyl mercury from fish consumption and polyunsaturated fatty acids: associations with child development at 20 mo of age in an observational study in the Republic of Seychelles. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition . info:/10.3945/​ajcn.114.100503

  • January 21, 2015
  • 10:40 AM
  • 51 views

Polar Bears Leave Messages in Their Footprints

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish



If a polar bear tells you to talk to the hand, don't be offended. The animals seem to communicate with each other through scent trails left by their paws. Their tracks tell a story to the other bears roaming their habitat, helping potential mates to find each other—as long as there's habitat left, anyway.

As they crisscross the snowy Arctic, polar bears are usually alone. In other solitary bear species, animals leave messages for each other by rubbing their bodies or urine onto trees or........ Read more »

Owen, M., Swaisgood, R., Slocomb, C., Amstrup, S., Durner, G., Simac, K., & Pessier, A. (2015) An experimental investigation of chemical communication in the polar bear. Journal of Zoology, 295(1), 36-43. DOI: 10.1111/jzo.12181  

  • January 20, 2015
  • 07:00 AM
  • 55 views

The Electrical Grid Needs Fattening Up

by Mark E. Lasbury in The 'Scope

Make hay while the sun shines is the great lesson from renewable energy. Solar and wind have to be harvested when they occur, or they are lost forever. But how do you store that energy if the national grid doesn’t need it at that moment? Large-scale energy storage is the wave of the future – including pumping air or hydrogen gas into abandoned mines or running the national grid from all our electric cars.... Read more »

F. K. Tuffner, Member, IEEE, and M. Kintner-Meyer, Member, IEEE. (2011) Using Electric Vehicles to Mitigate Imbalance Requirements Associated with an Increased Penetration of Wind Generation. Power and Energy Society General Meeting, 2011 IEEE , 1-8. info:/

  • January 14, 2015
  • 10:41 AM
  • 73 views

Journal Club: Birds pick nest materials with camouflage in mind

by GrrlScientist in Maniraptora

SUMMARY: A recent study by a research team in Scotland reveals that birds intentionally choose colour-matching materials to camouflage their nests thereby reducing predation risk. Read more... Read more »

Bailey Ida E., Kate Morgan, Simone L. Meddle, & Susan D. Healy. (2015) Birds build camouflaged nests. The Auk, 132(1), 11-15. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1642/auk-14-77.1  

  • January 13, 2015
  • 08:00 AM
  • 86 views

Delicate Arteries Of Energy

by Mark E. Lasbury in The 'Scope

As dependent on electricity as America is, it is surprising how easily it could be taken away. Do you know how electricity comes to your house? Here is the national electrical grid easily explained and the points at which it can be vulnerable to sun, weather, and terrorism.... Read more »

Paul W. Parfomak. (2014) Physical Security of the U.S. Power Grid: High-Voltage Transformer Substations . Congressional Research Service Reports. info:/

  • January 12, 2015
  • 08:26 PM
  • 79 views

Volcanic eruptions partially explain global warming hiatus

by Jonathan Trinastic in Goodnight Earth

The well-known global warming hiatus since 2000 has been partially explained by recent data from satellite measurements showing that sulfate emissions from volcanic eruptions is reflecting incoming sunlight.... Read more »

Santer, B., Solomon, S., Bonfils, C., Zelinka, M., Painter, J., Beltran, F., Fyfe, J., Johannesson, G., Mears, C., Ridley, D.... (2014) Observed multi-variable signals of late 20th and early 21st century volcanic activity. Geophysical Research Letters. DOI: 10.1002/2014GL062366  

  • January 12, 2015
  • 05:08 PM
  • 88 views

Study shows rise in mass die-offs

by Gabriel in Lunatic Laboratories

You really don’t hear much about mass die-offs from mainstream news outlets; this might make you think they don’t happen that often. However, an analysis of 727 mass die-offs of nearly 2,500 animal species from the past 70 years has found that such events are increasing among birds, fish, and marine invertebrates. At the same time, the number of individuals killed appears to be decreasing for reptiles and amphibians, and is unchanged for mammals.... Read more »

Samuel B. Fey, Adam M. Siepielski, Sébastien Nusslé, Kristina Cervantes-Yoshida, Jason L. Hwan, Eric R. Huber, Maxfield J. Fey, Alessandro Catenazzi, & Stephanie M. Carlson. (2015) Recent shifts in the occurrence, cause, and magnitude of animal mass mortality events. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. info:/10.1073/pnas.1414894112

  • January 12, 2015
  • 10:24 AM
  • 93 views

Collective Personality and Our Environment

by Miss Behavior in The Scorpion and the Frog

We are all familiar with the concept of the personality of an individual. We are less familiar with group- or collective personalities (although most teachers can tell you at length about the personalities of each of their classes). The concept is the same: whereas an individual personality relates to an individual’s consistent behaviors across time and contexts, a collective personality relates to a group’s consistent behaviors across time and contexts. Collective personalities can be stron........ Read more »

  • January 7, 2015
  • 08:00 AM
  • 94 views

The Fungus And The Frog

by Mark Lasbury in As Many Exceptions As Rules

Amphibians are some of the most vulnerable animals on Earth. Their numbers have been crashing for years. The reasons for this are several, but one fungal infection is a big contributor. This fungus teaches us about evolution, common descent, and phylogenetics – but hopefully it’ll be eaten up by a newly discovered water flea!... Read more »

Martel, A., Spitzen-van der Sluijs, A., Blooi, M., Bert, W., Ducatelle, R., Fisher, M., Woeltjes, A., Bosman, W., Chiers, K., Bossuyt, F.... (2013) Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans sp. nov. causes lethal chytridiomycosis in amphibians. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 110(38), 15325-15329. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1307356110  

  • January 6, 2015
  • 06:11 PM
  • 93 views

Tropical forests absorbing more carbon dioxide than previously thought

by Jonathan Trinastic in Goodnight Earth

New analyses of theoretical models backed by experimental measurements indicate that tropical forests are absorbing much more CO2 than previously known!... Read more »

Schimel D, Stephens BB, & Fisher JB. (2014) Effect of increasing CO2 on the terrestrial carbon cycle. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. PMID: 25548156  

  • January 6, 2015
  • 08:00 AM
  • 113 views

What It Takes To Kill A Watt

by Mark E. Lasbury in The 'Scope

Do you have any idea where your home's electricity comes from? Sure, people have all heard of solar power, wind power, and fossil fuels, but they know very little about how electricity is most often generated. Is fossil fuel the most important natural resource for electricity production – nope, it’s water.... Read more »

  • January 6, 2015
  • 07:05 AM
  • 49 views

Large-scale effects of temperature and zooplankton on phytoplankton in the North Atlantic

by sceintists from the Marine group at CEES in Marine Science blog




Phytoplankton biomass is controlled by a combination of “bottom-up” factors such as temperature, light and nutrients and “top-down” factors, in particular zooplankton predation. In a recent study we analysed large-scale data on ocean chlorophyll, copepod abundance and temperature in order to assess the general importance of bottom-up and top-down factors in controlling phytoplankton biomass.

... Read more »

Feng, J., Stige, L., Durant, J., Hessen, D., Zhu, L., Hjermann, D., Llope, M., & Stenseth, N. (2014) Large-scale season-dependent effects of temperature and zooplankton on phytoplankton in the North Atlantic. Marine Ecology Progress Series, 25-37. DOI: 10.3354/meps10724  

Fischer, A., Moberg, E., Alexander, H., Brownlee, E., Hunter-Cevera, K., Pitz, K., Rosengard, S., & Sosik, H. (2014) Sixty Years of Sverdrup: A Retrospective of Progress in the Study of Phytoplankton Blooms. Oceanography, 27(1), 222-235. DOI: 10.5670/oceanog.2014.26  

  • December 31, 2014
  • 09:23 AM
  • 137 views

The Pine Marten of the Mourne Mountains

by Denise O'Meara in Denise O'Meara

O’Mahony’s data indicated that the pine marten population in this part of Ireland is quite low, with as few as only nine estimated breeding females in the area. The analysis also showed that pine marten only bred in some of the sampled woodlots. O’Mahony warns of the possibility of local population extinctions due to the small number of breeding females, especially as some of the woodlots are small and isolated which may hamper movement of animals across the entire landscape.
........ Read more »

  • December 23, 2014
  • 09:31 PM
  • 155 views

The top saline lake research of 2014

by Egor Zadereev in Science of Salt Lakes

Now, it is time to analyze the research output. The traditional approach is to use the Web of Science and to make search for “salt lake or saline lake” and “salinity and lake”. The combined list of 690 papers published in year 2014 will be the database for brief analysis and selection of best papers.... Read more »

Erin F. Jones and Wayne A. Wurtsbaugh. (2014) The Great Salt Lake’s monimolimnion and its importance for mercury bioaccumulation in brine shrimp (Artemia franciscana). Limnology and Oceanography, 59(1), 141-155. info:/

  • December 23, 2014
  • 09:53 AM
  • 170 views

Quiz: Do You Always Remember a (Bear) Face?

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish

You know how embarrassing it is to introduce yourself to someone at a party, and realize too late that you've already met? Just imagine if that person was a bear.

To prevent moments like this, San Diego Zoo conservation researcher Russell Van Horn and his colleagues asked people to try identifying bears by their faces. Actually, their motivation had nothing to do with awkward party moments. It had more to do with citizen science. Can volunteers be trusted to look at photos from a camera trap,........ Read more »

Horn, R., Zug, B., LaCombe, C., Velez-Liendo, X., & Paisley, S. (2014) Human visual identification of individual Andean bears . Wildlife Biology, 20(5), 291-299. DOI: 10.2981/wlb.00023  

  • December 23, 2014
  • 06:21 AM
  • 158 views

Plant virus found in ancient reindeer poo

by Abigail Rumsey in The Plantwise Blog

Virologists that work on detecting new animal and human viruses have successfully extracted two 700-year-old viruses from frozen remains of caribou faeces in the north of Canada. The faeces sample was taken from a metre below the surface, in the permafrost layer of the Selwyn mountains of the Yukon and Northern Territories. The frozen evidence shows that […]... Read more »

Ng, T., Chen, L., Zhou, Y., Shapiro, B., Stiller, M., Heintzman, P., Varsani, A., Kondov, N., Wong, W., Deng, X.... (2014) Preservation of viral genomes in 700-y-old caribou feces from a subarctic ice patch. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 111(47), 16842-16847. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1410429111  

  • December 19, 2014
  • 10:26 AM
  • 61 views

Uniting ecologists into a smooth, tasty and potent blend: Blend of the year 2015

by sceintists from the Marine group at CEES in Marine Science blog




In 2005 Stenseth and colleagues wrote a tribune in the Theme section of MEPS ‘

Bridging the gap between aquatic and terrestrial ecology
’ arguing on the mutual benefit of uniting ecologists to give birth to new science and understanding. In December 2014 we got funded a big project by the
Norwegian Research Council to do just so in Norway.

... Read more »

Stenseth N.C., Mysterud A., Durant J.M., Hjermann D.O., & Ottersen, G. (2005) Uniting ecologists into a smooth, tasty and potent blend. Marine Ecology Progress Series , 289-292. info:/

  • December 19, 2014
  • 07:52 AM
  • 149 views

The stench of compatibility: How otters identify one another, and potential mates by smelling their poop

by Denise O'Meara in Denise O'Meara

Otters don’t tend to be very visible to us, but they are more abundant than we might perceive them to be. Otters mostly live in isolation of one another, yet they manage to remotely communicate to one another without the aid of modern technology that we so often depend upon for communication.

On this blog, I previously wrote how otters communicate with one another using their spraints (faeces). They use them to mark their territory and to leave messages for other otters. As part of the rese........ Read more »

Kean, E., Chadwick, E., & Müller, C. (2014) Scent signals individual identity and country of origin in otters. Mammalian Biology - Zeitschrift für Säugetierkunde. DOI: 10.1016/j.mambio.2014.12.004  

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