Life as we know it, when we peer deep into the vastness of space we look for someone — or something — that resembles ourselves. Carbon based, needs water lifeforms, but what if we’re being narrow-minded? A new type of methane-based, oxygen-free life form that can metabolize and reproduce similar to life on Earth has been modeled by a team of researchers suggests we are being too closed minded about life.... Read more »
James Stevenson,, Jonathan Lunine,, & Paulette Clancy. (2015) Membrane alternatives in worlds without oxygen: Creation of an azotosome. Science Advances. info:/http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/sciadv.1400067
You won't see a chickadee shoveling out a parking space and claiming it with a folding chair, no matter how good your binoculars are. But birds, too, have to be resourceful when they live in inhospitable climates. Travel just 600 meters up a mountain, and you'll find chickadees vastly more clever than their peers living a more comfortable life below.
How do you test the cleverness of birds? Using tubes with tasty worms inside, naturally. Biologists don't like to call animals "smart," thou... Read more »
Kozlovsky, D., Branch, C., & Pravosudov, V. (2015) Problem-solving ability and response to novelty in mountain chickadees (Poecile gambeli) from different elevations. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology. DOI: 10.1007/s00265-015-1874-4
Alternative fuels have a few large problems making them horrible options over oil (which is already a horrible choice). However, researchers may have finally eliminated one of those problems, cost. The team has invented a novel pretreatment technology that could cut the cost of biofuels production by about 30 percent or more by dramatically reducing the amount of enzymes needed to breakdown the raw materials that form biofuels.... Read more »
Nguyen, T., Cai, C., Kumar, R., & Wyman, C. (2015) Co-solvent Pretreatment Reduces Costly Enzyme Requirements for High Sugar and Ethanol Yields from Lignocellulosic Biomass. ChemSusChem. DOI: 10.1002/cssc.201403045
SUMMARY: Instead of travelling to remote locations in faraway countries, scientists sometimes discover a new species by looking a little more closely at an old specimen in a museum drawer. ... Read more... Read more »
Helgen Kristofer M., Roland Kays, Lauren Helgen, Mirian Tsuchiya, Aleta Quinn, Don Wilson, & Jesus Maldonado. (2013) Taxonomic revision of the olingos (Bassaricyon), with description of a new species, the Olinguito. ZooKeys, 1-83. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3897/zookeys.324.5827
Droughts have been severe in California and surrounding states, but will they be any worse than previous droughts in Earth's history? A combination of climate models and tree ring analysis provides an answer.... Read more »
Benjamin I. Cook, Toby R. Ault, Jason E. Smerdon. (2015) Unprecedented 21st century drought risk in the American Southwest and Central Plains. Science Advances. info:/
In a world of shy, quiet-as-a-mouse rodents, one lemming is the exact opposite. It attacks when it should retreat to a hole. It squeals and shrieks when it should keep silent. One scientist is working to figure out how evolution created this animal—and wearing thick gloves while he does it.
First, forget what you think you know about lemmings. You've likely heard a rumor that these rodents hurl themselves off of cliffs in droves. It's not true, though the makers of a 1958 Disney documenta... Read more »
Andersson, M. (2015) Aposematism and crypsis in a rodent: antipredator defence of the Norwegian lemming. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology. DOI: 10.1007/s00265-014-1868-7
Many countries are adding biofuels to their mandates for carbon-free, renewable energy? But does biofuel truly fit the bill? Not so much, contrary to what popular culture hopes to believe. Find out the details here.... Read more »
Horita, M., Kitamoto, H., Kawaide, T., Tachibana, Y., & Shinozaki, Y. (2015) On-farm solid state simultaneous saccharification and fermentation of whole crop forage rice in wrapped round bale for ethanol production. Biotechnology for Biofuels, 8(1). DOI: 10.1186/s13068-014-0192-9
As anyone who's made valentines for a whole elementary-school class knows, kids are often pushed into social groups not of their choosing. Scientists tried the same thing with wild birds and found it pretty easy to coax them into new cliques. The birds hung out with their new social circles even when they didn't have to. But once the experiment ended, those friendships dissolved faster than a candy conversation heart.
To create new social groups in birds, researchers essentially controlle... Read more »
Firth JA, & Sheldon BC. (2015) Experimental manipulation of avian social structure reveals segregation is carried over across contexts. Proceedings. Biological sciences / The Royal Society, 282(1802). PMID: 25652839
Pictures courtesy of Lucasfilm and J. Armbruster
Leaving the movie theater in 1977, with Greedo's death at the hands of Han Solo a fresh memory, a young Jon Armbruster could not have anticipated the role that Jabba the Hutt's go-to bounty hunter would play in his scientific contributions decades later.
And yet...when he (along with Auburn University researchers Milton Tan, Christopher... Read more »
Armbruster, J., Werneke, D., & Tan, M. (2015) Three new species of saddled loricariid catfishes, and a review of Hemiancistrus, Peckoltia, and allied genera (Siluriformes). ZooKeys, 97-123. DOI: 10.3897/zookeys.480.6540
By Samantha VoldThe classic tale of Jurassic Park, where dinosaurs once again walked the earth has tickled the fancy of many a reader. Dinosaur DNA preserved in a fossilized mosquito was used to bring these giants back to life. But in real life, it was previously thought that there was no possible way for organic materials to be preserved, that they often degraded within 1 million years if not rapidly attacked by bacteria and other organisms specialized in decomposition. Skin and other soft tiss........ Read more »
Minnesota is the "Land of 10,000 Lakes," at least 13 of which are named Clear. But some of these lakes are clearer and cleaner than others. Does that matter to the tourists who visit them? Researchers found an easy way to answer this question by taking a deep dive into Flickr.
Bonnie Keeler, a scientist at the University of Minnesota's Institute on the Environment, explains that it's important to measure how the public is using various lakes, rivers and streams. Agencies that are trying........ Read more »
Keeler, B., Wood, S., Polasky, S., Kling, C., Filstrup, C., & Downing, J. (2015) Recreational demand for clean water: evidence from geotagged photographs by visitors to lakes. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, 2147483647. DOI: 10.1890/140124
Why do we have music? And what enables us to perceive, appreciate and make music? The search for a possible answer to these and other questions forms the backdrop to a soon-to-be released theme issue of Philosophical Transactions, which deals with the subject of musicality. An initiative of Henkjan Honing, professor of Music Cognition at the University of Amsterdam (UvA), this theme issue will see Honing and fellow researchers present their most important empirical results and offer a joint rese........ Read more »
Honing, H., ten Cate, C., Peretz, I., & Trehub, S. (2015) Without it no music: cognition, biology and evolution of musicality. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 370(1664), 20140088-20140088. DOI: 10.1098/rstb.2014.0088
Gingras, B., Honing, H., Peretz, I., Trainor, L., & Fisher, S. (2015) Defining the biological bases of individual differences in musicality. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 370(1664), 20140092-20140092. DOI: 10.1098/rstb.2014.0092
Hoeschele, M., Merchant, H., Kikuchi, Y., Hattori, Y., & ten Cate, C. (2015) Searching for the origins of musicality across species. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 370(1664), 20140094-20140094. DOI: 10.1098/rstb.2014.0094
The 2010 floods were among the worst that Pakistan has experienced in recent decades. Sadly, the country is prone to recurrent flooding which means that in any given year, Pakistani farmers hope and pray that the floods will not be as bad as those in 2010. It would be natural to assume that recurring flood disasters force Pakistani farmers to give up farming and migrate to the cities in order to make ends meet. But a recent study published in the journal Nature Climate Change by Valerie Mueller ........ Read more »
Mueller V, Gray C, & Kosec K. (2014) Heat Stress Increases Long-term Human Migration in Rural Pakistan. Nature Climate Change, 182-185. PMID: 25132865
My second guest post at the Eyes on Environment blog at Nature's Scitable network. Check out how policy and technology will help integrate renewables into the electrical grid.... Read more »
Kucharski, T., Ferralis, N., Kolpak, A., Zheng, J., Nocera, D., & Grossman, J. (2014) Templated assembly of photoswitches significantly increases the energy-storage capacity of solar thermal fuels. Nature Chemistry, 6(5), 441-447. DOI: 10.1038/nchem.1918
New analysis in Nature shows that differences in actual and modeled temperature trends are due to natural variability in Earth's climate over short timescales. Read the details here!... Read more »
Marotzke J, & Forster PM. (2015) Forcing, feedback and internal variability in global temperature trends. Nature, 517(7536), 565-70. PMID: 25631444
European hamsters showed us that there is more to annual body rhythms than melatonin. Image by Agnieszka Szeląg at Wikimedia Commons.Many animals undergo seasonal physiological changes in order to ensure that their babies are born during a time of more abundant food and milder weather and to help their bodies prepare for harsh winter conditions. In order to precisely time these physiological changes with the seasons, most animals have evolved to respond to the most reliable marker for time of y........ Read more »
Monecke, S., Sage-Ciocca, D., Wollnik, F., & Pevet, P. (2013) Photoperiod Can Entrain Circannual Rhythms in Pinealectomized European Hamsters. Journal of Biological Rhythms, 28(4), 278-290. DOI: 10.1177/0748730413498561
Welcome to the latest Naturally Speaking blog post. This post was written by Research Associate Caroline Millins a qualified veterinary pathologist and researcher in wildlife disease epidemiology. Here Caroline describes work that was featured in her most recent research paper, but also gives the broader story to becoming involved in wildlife pathology. Silent witnesses: investigating wildlife crime in Scotland Seeing wildlife […]
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Millins, C., Howie, F., Everitt, C., Shand, M., & Lamm, C. (2014) Analysis of suspected wildlife crimes submitted for forensic examinations in Scotland. Forensic Science, Medicine, and Pathology, 10(3), 357-362. DOI: 10.1007/s12024-014-9568-1
Let’s be honest, we’ve been getting a little fancy with the antibiotics, creating new and more relevant versions of old favorites like penicillin. Truthfully, we are the problem, how many times do we have to drive home the idea that antibiotics are for bacteria, not viruses. It is not all the consumers fault, the Doctors used to hand out antibiotics to placate angry parents of sick children.... Read more »
WHO. (2014) Antimicrobial resistance. World Health Organization . info:other/
Lewis NE, Hixson KK, Conrad TM, Lerman JA, Charusanti P, Polpitiya AD, Adkins JN, Schramm G, Purvine SO, Lopez-Ferrer D.... (2010) Omic data from evolved E. coli are consistent with computed optimal growth from genome-scale models. Molecular systems biology, 390. PMID: 20664636
Solomon SL, & Oliver KB. (2014) Antibiotic resistance threats in the United States: stepping back from the brink. American family physician, 89(12), 938-41. PMID: 25162160
Tellería-Orriols JJ, García-Salido A, Varillas D, Serrano-González A, & Casado-Flores J. (2014) TLR2-TLR4/CD14 polymorphisms and predisposition to severe invasive infections by Neisseria meningitidis and Streptococcus pneumoniae. Medicina intensiva / Sociedad Espanola de Medicina Intensiva y Unidades Coronarias, 38(6), 356-62. PMID: 24144680
Corie Lok. (2001) Antibiotic resistance switched off. Nature. info:/10.1038/news010322-4
Cobb RE, Wang Y, & Zhao H. (2014) High-Efficiency Multiplex Genome Editing of Streptomyces Species Using an Engineered CRISPR/Cas System. ACS synthetic biology. PMID: 25458909
Imagine you're on a particularly boring leg of a road trip and you start counting houses. You pass through long stretches of country without counting anything. When you do see houses, they're clustered into towns, and may have spacious yards with tire swings. As you approach a city (finally!), rows of houses appear at regular intervals instead of clumping. And in the heart of the city they shrink into little apartments that go by too fast for you to count. European rabbits, it turns out, b........ Read more »
Ziege, M., Brix, M., Schulze, M., Seidemann, A., Straskraba, S., Wenninger, S., Streit, B., Wronski, T., & Plath, M. (2015) From multifamily residences to studio apartments: shifts in burrow structures of European rabbits along a rural-to-urban gradient. Journal of Zoology. DOI: 10.1111/jzo.12207
by Piter Kehoma Boll Last week I introduced a land planarian that feeds on land snails, Obama ladislavii, or, as I called it, the Ladislau’s flatworm. Therefore, today, I thought it would be great to present a similar situation occurring … Continue reading →... Read more »
Lemos, V., Canello, R., & Leal-Zanchet, A. (2012) Carnivore mollusks as natural enemies of invasive land flatworms. Annals of Applied Biology, 161(2), 127-131. DOI: 10.1111/j.1744-7348.2012.00556.x
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