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Ecology / Conservation posts

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  • November 25, 2014
  • 05:17 PM
  • 66 views

Blu-ray solar power

by Gabriel in Lunatic Laboratories

So here’s something you don’t see everyday. Blu-ray disks, you know the stuff we use for video games or DVDs also improve the performance of solar cells—suggesting a second use for unwanted discs—according to new research from Northwestern University. As surprising as this was, there is even better news, we know why they improve performance.... Read more »

  • November 21, 2014
  • 04:09 PM
  • 68 views

EPA Clean Power Plan Explained!

by Jonathan Trinastic in Goodnight Earth

The EPA announced a plan to cut power plant emissions by 30% in about 15 years - get the details here!... Read more »

Fowlie, M., Goulder, L., Kotchen, M., Borenstein, S., Bushnell, J., Davis, L., Greenstone, M., Kolstad, C., Knittel, C., Stavins, R.... (2014) An economic perspective on the EPA's Clean Power Plan. Science, 346(6211), 815-816. DOI: 10.1126/science.1261349  

  • November 21, 2014
  • 01:58 PM
  • 76 views

Genome, Evolution, and Domestication of the Cat

by Daniel Koboldt in Massgenomics

Even though most of my posts on MassGenomics concern human genetics and genomics, today I’d like to highlight a milestone in another species, one that many humans care fiercely about. This guy: Cat lovers, rejoice! This month in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciencs, Mike Montague, Wes Warren, and colleagues published the first complete […]... Read more »

Montague MJ, Li G, Gandolfi B, Khan R, Aken BL, Searle SM, Minx P, Hillier LW, Koboldt DC, Davis BW.... (2014) Comparative analysis of the domestic cat genome reveals genetic signatures underlying feline biology and domestication. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. PMID: 25385592  

  • November 19, 2014
  • 09:53 AM
  • 76 views

Mongoose Lookouts Carefully Weigh Risks (and Sing While They Do It)

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish

If you were assigned to watch a dozen dwarf mongooses on the savannah, would you know how to keep them safe? Or would half of them get snatched by snakes before you finished checking the dictionary to make sure they weren’t really a dozen mongeese? Luckily these animals don’t need us to watch their backs. […]The post Mongoose Lookouts Carefully Weigh Risks (and Sing While They Do It) appeared first on Inkfish.... Read more »

  • November 14, 2014
  • 11:19 AM
  • 84 views

Worm Defies Tradition, Stores Gut Bacteria in Gills Instead

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish

What—just because they’re called gut microbes, you’ve been keeping them in your colon? How unoriginal. This is Bankia setacea, also called the Northwest or feathery shipworm. Humans usually pay attention to shipworms only when they perform their namesake activity: burrowing face-first into our boats or docks and eating their way through. Shipworms are bivalves, like clams […]The post Worm Defies Tradition, Stores Gut Bacteria in Gills Instead appeared first on Inkfish.... Read more »

O'Connor, R., Fung, J., Sharp, K., Benner, J., McClung, C., Cushing, S., Lamkin, E., Fomenkov, A., Henrissat, B., Londer, Y.... (2014) Gill bacteria enable a novel digestive strategy in a wood-feeding mollusk. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1413110111  

  • November 13, 2014
  • 05:28 PM
  • 79 views

Hard times, tough gods

by Tom Rees in Epiphenom

Almost all cultures have some kind of supernatural beliefs. But it may surprise you to know that belief in moralising supernatural beings, who care about whether mortals do good or bad, are far from universal. That’s fascinating, and it begs the question: “why?”. Why do some cultures bother to believe spirits who watch over us [Read More...]

... Read more »

Botero CA, Gardner B, Kirby KR, Bulbulia J, Gavin MC, & Gray RD. (2014) The ecology of religious beliefs. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. PMID: 25385605  

  • November 11, 2014
  • 02:03 PM
  • 87 views

Some Plants can regenerate by DNA duplication

by Gabriel in Lunatic Laboratories

When munched by grazing animals (or mauled by scientists in the lab), some herbaceous plants overcompensate – producing more plant matter and becoming more fertile than they otherwise would. Scientists say they now know how these plants accomplish this feat of regeneration.... Read more »

  • November 11, 2014
  • 10:24 AM
  • 82 views

Found: The Ideal Fatness for Elephant Seals

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish

Like many new mothers, a female elephant seal puts herself on a strict diet after giving birth. She dives into the Pacific and spends two months eating everything she can find. It’s only by working hard at building up her blubber stores that she can get back her ideal body. Northern elephant seals (Mirounga angustirostris) […]The post Found: The Ideal Fatness for Elephant Seals appeared first on Inkfish.... Read more »

Adachi, T., Maresh, J., Robinson, P., Peterson, S., Costa, D., Naito, Y., Watanabe, Y., & Takahashi, A. (2014) The foraging benefits of being fat in a highly migratory marine mammal. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 281(1797), 20142120-20142120. DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2014.2120  

  • November 10, 2014
  • 03:57 PM
  • 84 views

A new way to look at Global Warming

by Gabriel in Lunatic Laboratories

Global warming, nothing new with that and it’s here to stay for now. But while computer models churn out bleak forecasts for the planet’s future, we also have a more conceptual understanding of what is happening as humans pump carbon dioxide into the air. Unfortunately the traditional conceptual understanding of carbon dioxide wrapping the planet in a sort of blanket that traps more heat is not quite right.... Read more »

  • November 10, 2014
  • 04:11 AM
  • 69 views

Water-Use Advantage for Lianas over Trees in Tropical Seasonal Forests

by Wiley Asia Blog in Wiley Asia Blog - Life Sciences

Lianas exhibit peak abundance in tropical forests with strong seasonal droughts, the eco-physiological mechanisms associated with lianas coping with water deficits are poorly understood.

Researchers examined soil water partitioning, sap flow, and canopy eco-physiological properties for 99 individuals of 15 liana and 34 co-occurring tree species in three tropical forests that differed in soil water availability.... Read more »

Chen, Y., Cao, K., Schnitzer, S., Fan, Z., Zhang, J., & Bongers, F. (2014) Water-use advantage for lianas over trees in tropical seasonal forests. New Phytologist. DOI: 10.1111/nph.13036  

  • November 9, 2014
  • 09:02 PM
  • 88 views

Using Specific Bacteria to Treat Antibiotic-Induced Diarrheal Disease (C. difficile)

by Geoffrey Hannigan in Prophage

There has been a lot of talk about the microbiome and Clostridium difficile infections. This is because patient antibiotic or chemotherapeutic exposure (both of which can destroy your commensal bacterial communities) increases the risk of C. difficile infection. This observation suggests a role for commensal bacteria in mediating infection resistance. The exact commensal bacteria that mediate protection against C. difficile infection are not known, but luckily for us, scientists are working o........ Read more »

  • November 5, 2014
  • 04:08 PM
  • 86 views

A Big Break for Bio-Gasoline

by Gabriel in Lunatic Laboratories

While the world waits for a better battery (and a energy grid system that doesn't require constant power making), scientists are hard at work trying to teach old fuels a new trick. Thankfully an international team of bioengineers has boosted the ability of bacteria to produce isopentenol, a compound with desirable gasoline properties. The finding, if it is not obvious, is a significant step toward developing a bacterial strain that can yield industrial quantities of renewable bio-gasoline.... Read more »

  • November 4, 2014
  • 02:42 AM
  • 86 views

RotM: Interview with Prof. Michael Garstang

by Coffee Table Science in CTS






We continue our Researcher of the Month (RotM) series, with an interview with Professor Michael Garstang, Distinguished Investigator and Research Professor at the Department of Environmental Sciences at the University of Virgina. Professor Garstang is also associated with a Simpsons Weather Associates, a private environmental research company and recently published a paper in PLoS One about ... Read more »

  • November 3, 2014
  • 07:31 AM
  • 57 views

For Stress-Free Penguins, Use a Rover

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish

The first time a colony of Antarctic penguins sees a towering human striding toward them, it must be like First Contact. They’ve never seen a species our size on land before, or anything that moves like we do. Even after penguins have interacted with researchers, the approach of a human is a physiologically stressful experience. […]The post For Stress-Free Penguins, Use a Rover appeared first on Inkfish.... Read more »

Maho, Y., Whittington, J., Hanuise, N., Pereira, L., Boureau, M., Brucker, M., Chatelain, N., Courtecuisse, J., Crenner, F., Friess, B.... (2014) Rovers minimize human disturbance in research on wild animals. Nature Methods. DOI: 10.1038/nmeth.3173  

  • November 2, 2014
  • 02:11 PM
  • 132 views

Boosting Crop Yields via Genetics

by Gabriel in Lunatic Laboratories

Genetic engineering techniques offers many different promises, some of which will obviously come sooner than others. One of those promises was a possible end to famine, while most famine in the world today is in developing countries, that could spread as population increases. To that end scientists have announced a new way to dramatically increase crop yields by improving upon Mother Nature's offerings. The team has discovered a set of gene variations that can boost fruit production in the tomat........ Read more »

Z. Lippman et al. (2014) Optimization of crop productivity in tomato using induced mutations in the florigen pathway. Nature Genetics. info:/10.1038/ng.3131

  • November 2, 2014
  • 09:54 AM
  • 121 views

Understanding the past to know more about our future: study finds spikes in carbon dioxide levels correlated with end of last glacial cycle

by Jonathan Trinastic in Goodnight Earth

We've always thought that the last glacial cycle correlated with a slow rise in CO2, however new data from Antarctica shows quick spikes in CO2 and methane lasting under 100 years. This data could provide new insights into the carbon cycles useful for understanding today's CO2 increases.... Read more »

Marcott, S., Bauska, T., Buizert, C., Steig, E., Rosen, J., Cuffey, K., Fudge, T., Severinghaus, J., Ahn, J., Kalk, M.... (2014) Centennial-scale changes in the global carbon cycle during the last deglaciation. Nature, 514(7524), 616-619. DOI: 10.1038/nature13799  

  • October 30, 2014
  • 09:57 AM
  • 115 views

Resourceful Crustaceans Turn Invasive Seaweed into Homes

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish

When a new developer comes to town and starts aggressively building up the empty property around your home, you can get mad—or you can move in. That’s what tiny crustaceans in the Georgia mudflats have done. Facing an invasive Japanese seaweed, they’ve discovered that it makes excellent shelter, protecting them from all kinds of threats. […]The post Resourceful Crustaceans Turn Invasive Seaweed into Homes appeared first on Inkfish.... Read more »

  • October 28, 2014
  • 04:11 PM
  • 142 views

Scientists resurrect 700-year-old viruses, Just in time for Halloween!

by Gabriel in Lunatic Laboratories

You know how some zombie movies start with a discovery of a virus, it gets loose, and things quickly spiral out of control from that? Well in breaking news a team of researchers have found two 700-year-old viral sequences in frozen caribou dung in an arctic ice patch. The group isolated part of a viral RNA genome and the complete genome of a DNA virus. Then they infected living plants with the DNA virus, what could go wrong?... 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. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1410429111  

  • October 28, 2014
  • 09:51 AM
  • 128 views

Tagged Dolphins Adjust by Swimming Slowly

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish

Scientists love the data they get by attaching electronic tags to animals, but these devices can be a literal drag. For animals that fly or swim, tags can mess up their mechanics and force them to spend more energy. That’s what scientists expected to see when they studied dolphins with data loggers suction-cupped to their […]The post Tagged Dolphins Adjust by Swimming Slowly appeared first on Inkfish.... Read more »

van der Hoop JM, Fahlman A, Hurst T, Rocho-Levine J, Shorter KA, Petrov V, & Moore MJ. (2014) Bottlenose dolphins modify behavior to reduce metabolic effect of tag attachment. The Journal of experimental biology. PMID: 25324344  

  • October 27, 2014
  • 03:40 PM
  • 139 views

Real Zombie-Making Parasites Among Us

by Miss Behavior in The Scorpion and the Frog

The mummified cat and the rat in the crypt of Christ Church in Dublin. Photo by Adrian Grycuk at Wikimedia Commons.The Happening, M. Night Shyamalan’s worst panned movie of all time, is a science fiction thriller about people going into a mysterious trance and committing suicide as a result of other mind-hacking species. One of the leading criticisms raised against this movie is the ridiculousness of the premise. One species can’t cause another to willingly commit suicide! …Or can they? T........ Read more »

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