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Ecology / Conservation posts

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  • December 28, 2015
  • 05:30 PM

Scientists Recruit Crows as Filmmakers to Study Tool Use

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish

New Caledonian crows are some of the world's most famous non-human tool users. The crows employ sticks, leaves, and even bits of wire in the lab to probe holes in branches or logs, fishing out tasty bugs. But scientists are usually stuck studying these behaviors in artificial environments. To get a better perspective on how these birds make and use tools in nature, researchers in the United Kingdom tried something new: they turned wild crows into documentary filmmakers.

Jolyon Troscianko........ Read more »

  • December 24, 2015
  • 04:54 PM

It came from planet X: ‘Forbidden’ substances on super-Earths

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Using mathematical models, scientists have ‘looked’ into the interior of super-Earths and discovered that they may contain compounds that are forbidden by the classical rules of chemistry — these substances may increase the heat transfer rate and strengthen the magnetic field on these planets.... Read more »

  • December 21, 2015
  • 11:31 PM

2015: Saline lake research in papers

by Egor Zadereev in Science of Salt Lakes

Traditional yearly review of research output on studies of saline lakes and salinity related questions.... Read more »

Andrei AŞ, Robeson MS 2nd, Baricz A, Coman C, Muntean V, Ionescu A, Etiope G, Alexe M, Sicora CI, Podar M.... (2015) Contrasting taxonomic stratification of microbial communities in two hypersaline meromictic lakes. The ISME journal, 9(12), 2642-56. PMID: 25932617  

Sorokin, D., Banciu, H., & Muyzer, G. (2015) Functional microbiology of soda lakes. Current Opinion in Microbiology, 88-96. DOI: 10.1016/j.mib.2015.05.004  

Lewis TL, Lindberg MS, Schmutz JA, Heglund PJ, Rover J, Koch JC, & Bertram MR. (2015) Pronounced chemical response of Subarctic lakes to climate-driven losses in surface area. Global change biology, 21(3), 1140-52. PMID: 25294238  

  • December 21, 2015
  • 01:53 PM

Is 2°C warming a sensible target?

by dominicwhite in Two Degrees or Under

[The] 2 °C warming target is perceived by the public as a universally accepted goal, identified by scientists as a safe limit that avoids dangerous climate change. This perception is incorrect: no scientific assessment has clearly justified or defended the...... Read more »

Knutti, R., Rogelj, J., Sedláček, J., & Fischer, E. (2015) A scientific critique of the two-degree climate change target. Nature Geoscience. DOI: 10.1038/ngeo2595  

Randalls, S. (2010) History of the 2°C climate target . Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change, 1(4), 598-605. DOI: 10.1002/wcc.62  

Ricke, K., Moreno-Cruz, J., Schewe, J., Levermann, A., & Caldeira, K. (2015) Policy thresholds in mitigation. Nature Geoscience. DOI: 10.1038/ngeo2607  

  • December 21, 2015
  • 12:43 PM

Unsmellable Snake Camouflages Its Scent

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish

If your favorite activity is lying motionless on the ground, you'd better make sure hungry animals can't find you. Snakes and other creatures that hunt by ambush, waiting for their prey to wander past, often have impressive visual camouflage. But at least one type of viper seems to disguise itself in another way, too: its smell is undetectable to predators.

Puff adders (Bitis arietans) are big, fat vipers that move around very little while they wait for prey. They're widespread in Af... Read more »

Miller AK, Maritz B, McKay S, Glaudas X, & Alexander GJ. (2015) An ambusher's arsenal: chemical crypsis in the puff adder (Bitis arietans). Proceedings. Biological sciences / The Royal Society, 282(1821). PMID: 26674950  

  • December 18, 2015
  • 12:24 PM

Beyond the headlines: clarifying the connection between healthy diets, resource use, and greenhouse gas emissions

by Jonathan Trinastic in Goodnight Earth

A recent study looking at the impact of USDA-recommended diets on the environment has received significant media attention. Some of these reports have been a bit misleading, so read here to learn the details about this important study that should impact US dietary policy!... Read more »

  • December 18, 2015
  • 09:28 AM

Kiss Me Under the Parasitic Angiosperm

by Stephanie Swift in mmmbitesizescience

Mistletoe is held in high regard at this time of year. No Christmas decorations are complete without a garland of cheerful mistletoe hanging on the door, or suspended prettily from the rafters as an incentive for festive romance. In nature, … Continue reading →... Read more »

Petersen G, Cuenca A, Møller IM, & Seberg O. (2015) Massive gene loss in mistletoe (Viscum, Viscaceae) mitochondria. Scientific Reports, 17588. PMID: 26625950  

  • December 16, 2015
  • 06:00 PM

One Small Change Makes a Big Difference

by Jenny Ludmer in Rooster's Report

By tweaking the cooking apparatus of rural Indian villages, a University of Iowa professor has made quite a dent in the world. His one simple innovation — a cheap metal grate — requires less firewood for cooking and therefore reduces deforestation. But even more impressive, it significantly reduces smoke and soot. And that’s nothing to sneeze at!
... Read more »

Udaykumar, H. Kindig, A. Rao, S. Del Viscio, M. Kukillaya, V. Panwar, N. Sharma, D. (2015) How a Simple, Inexpensive Device Makes a Three-Stone Hearth as Efficient as an Improved Cookstove. Solutions, 6(4), 53-60. info:/

  • December 16, 2015
  • 11:13 AM

Under the surface

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

Friday 11 December 2015, Kristina Øie Kvile has defended her PhD about the climate effects on
Calanus finmarchicus dynamics with success.

... Read more »

  • December 15, 2015
  • 04:56 PM

‘Hydricity’ concept uses solar energy to produce power round-the-clock… really?

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Researchers are proposing a new "hydricity" concept aimed at creating a sustainable economy by not only generating electricity with solar energy but also producing and storing hydrogen from superheated water for round-the-clock power production.... Read more »

Emre Gencer, Dharik S. Mallapragada, Francois Marechal, Mohit Tawarmalani. (2015) Round-the-clock power supply and a sustainable economy via synergistic integration of solar thermal power and hydrogen processes. Proceedings of the natural sciences academy of the United States of America. info:/

  • December 14, 2015
  • 12:54 PM

Why Are Cats Scared of Cucumbers?

by Miss Behavior in The Scorpion and the Frog

Have you seen the video of cats’ terrified responses to cucumbers? No?! Then check this out:This hilarious video has led many people to try this on their own cats… to varying degrees of success. And it has led to some curious questions: Why are these cats so terrified of a cucumber? And why isn’t my cat?The fear of something specific (like a cucumber) can either be innate (as in, you’re born with it) or learned. For many animal species, it would make sense to be born with a natural fear ........ Read more »

  • December 13, 2015
  • 04:34 PM

The world’s smallest terrorist: Virus hijacks protein machine and then kills the host

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Bacteriophages are viruses that infect and kill bacteria. The name originates from the Greek ‘phagos’ which means ‘to devour’. Bacteriophages were discovered 100 years ago because of their ability to replicate in a pathogenic bacterium, kill it and thereby cure the patient. As a small spaceship landing on the moon, the microscopic particles land on the surface of the bacteria where they inject their deadly genetic material.... Read more »

Gytz H, Mohr D, Seweryn P, Yoshimura Y, Kutlubaeva Z, Dolman F, Chelchessa B, Chetverin AB, Mulder FA, Brodersen DE.... (2015) Structural basis for RNA-genome recognition during bacteriophage Qβ replication. Nucleic acids research. PMID: 26578560  

  • December 11, 2015
  • 07:12 AM

Why Discussions About Global Warming Are So Boring

by Chiara Civardi in United Academics

If you have ever had a laugh or enjoyed a talk about climate change, this was probably Obama’s speech at the 2015 White House Correspondents’ Dinner. And you are not alone; just to give you some key facts:... Read more »

  • December 10, 2015
  • 04:22 PM

Eyes on Environment: where fuel goes, water cannot follow

by Jonathan Trinastic in Goodnight Earth

Water and energy policy have long been separate despite the deep link between energy production and freshwater consumption. Here we discuss a new study examining this link with policy implications about how to prevent resource scarcity.... Read more »

Holland RA, Scott KA, Flörke M, Brown G, Ewers RM, Farmer E, Kapos V, Muggeridge A, Scharlemann JP, Taylor G.... (2015) Global impacts of energy demand on the freshwater resources of nations. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 112(48). PMID: 26627262  

  • December 10, 2015
  • 04:15 PM

Salamanders Facing Preventable Death

by Jenny Ludmer in Rooster's Report

A deadly fungus is poised to enter North America, threatening to decimate salamander populations, as it has done in Europe. Remarkably, we know its coming and everyone is on board to prevent this calamity — pet industry and owners, animal advocates, conservationists, and policymakers — and yet, one crucial piece is missing: Government. And that begs the question: will we act before it’s too late?... Read more »

Matthew J. Gray, James P. Lewis, Priya Nanjappa, Blake Klocke, Frank Pasmans, An Martel, Craig Stephen, Gabriela Parra Olea, Scott A. Smith, Allison Sacerdote-Velat.... (2015) Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans: The North American Response and a Call for Action. PLOS Pathogens. info:/10.1371/journal.ppat.1005251

  • December 10, 2015
  • 09:02 AM

The Serengeti at a crossroads

by naturallyspeakingpodcast in Naturally Speaking Podcast

Is there a better option to paving a highway through the middle of the Serengeti and disrupting the greatest land migration on Earth? The conflict between conservation and development is something we have touched on at Naturally Speaking before—here at the Institute our researchers understand that a fine balance between the two must be achieved. However, […]

... Read more »

  • December 9, 2015
  • 02:44 PM

Calling All Religious Leaders

by Jenny Ludmer in Rooster's Report

Politicians aren’t exactly the most trusted leaders anymore (gee, I wonder why) and climate scientists are constantly under attack by skeptics. So, who’s left to convince the public to act? Science and religion might make strange bedfellows, but a new study suggests religious leaders are our best hope — let’s just pray they are willing to take on the role.... Read more »

Bain, P., Milfont, T., Kashima, Y., Bilewicz, M., Doron, G., Garðarsdóttir, R., Gouveia, V., Guan, Y., Johansson, L., Pasquali, C.... (2015) Co-benefits of addressing climate change can motivate action around the world. Nature Climate Change. DOI: 10.1038/nclimate2814  

  • December 8, 2015
  • 04:28 PM

Self-consciousness: Beyond the looking-glass and what dogs found there

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

That man’s best friend has a conscience is what every owner would be willing to bet, without even thinking about it for a moment. This means that dogs have self-consciousness. But the problem in science is that ideas and assumptions must be demonstrated. It is not enough for someone to have an inkling of something for it to be considered a scientific fact. Self-awareness, or self-consciousness, has been studied mainly by examining the responses of animals and children to their reflection in th........ Read more »

  • December 7, 2015
  • 08:30 PM

Seeing viruses in a new light

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Want to make a virus? It’s easy: combine one molecule of genomic nucleic acid, either DNA or RNA, and a handful of proteins, shake, and in a fraction of a second you’ll have a fully-formed virus. While that may sound like the worst infomercial ever, in many cases making a virus really is that simple. Viruses such as influenza spread so effectively, and as a result can be so deadly to their hosts, because of their ability to spontaneously self-assemble in large numbers.... Read more »

  • December 7, 2015
  • 05:00 PM

Global CO2 Emissions Might Be Stalling

by Jenny Ludmer in Rooster's Report

No one wants to hear the stock market is down. But, if carbon emissions slow — well, that’s something to celebrate. And according to a new study, that just might be what our world is experiencing.... Read more »

C. Le Quéré, & et al. (2015) Global Carbon Budget 2015. Earth System Science Data, 7(2), 349-396. info:/10.5194/essd-7-349-2015

Jackson, R., Canadell, J., Le Quéré, C., Andrew, R., Korsbakken, J., Peters, G., & Nakicenovic, N. (2015) Reaching peak emissions. Nature Climate Change. DOI: 10.1038/nclimate2892  

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