Ecosystems

Mosses used to evaluate atmospheric conditions in urban areas
August 17, 2017 04:51 PM - Hokkaido University

Researchers have developed a method to evaluate atmospheric conditions using mosses (bryophytes) in urban areas, a development that could facilitate broader evaluations of atmospheric environments.

Many urban areas face atmospheric problems such as pollution and the heat island effect. With the need to evaluate atmospheric conditions, bioindicators—organisms whose response to environmental changes indicates the health of an ecosystem—have attracted considerable attention. Their merits include being able to evaluate an environment over a wide area at a low cost; detect environmental changes over an extended period; and assess these changes’ effects on the ecosystem. Bryophytes are one such group of plants known to be sensitive to environmental changes, in particular to atmospheric conditions.

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How goldfish make alcohol to survive without oxygen
August 11, 2017 10:48 AM - University of Liverpool

Scientists at the Universities of Liverpool and Oslo have uncovered the secret behind a goldfish’s remarkable ability to produce alcohol as a way of surviving harsh winters beneath frozen lakes.

Humans and most other vertebrate animals die within a few minutes without oxygen. Yet goldfish and their wild relatives, crucian carp, can survive for days, even months, in oxygen-free water at the bottom of ice-covered ponds.

During this time, the fish are able to convert anaerobically produced lactic acid into ethanol, which then diffuses across their gills into the surrounding water and avoids a dangerous build-up of lactic acid in the body.

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SPOTLIGHT

Want To Slow Global Warming? Researchers Look To Family Planning

Tori Whitley, NPR

We've all heard of ways to reduce our carbon footprint: biking to work, eating less meat, recycling.

But there's another way to help the climate. A recent study from Lund University in Sweden shows that the biggest way to reduce climate change is to have fewer children.

"I knew this was a sensitive topic to bring up," says study co-author Kimberly Nicholas on NPR's Morning Edition. "Certainly it's not my place as a scientist to dictate choices for other people. But I do think it is my place to do the analysis and report it fairly."

The study concludes that four high-impact ways to reduce CO2 gas emissions include having fewer children, living without a car, avoiding airplane travel and eating a vegetarian diet.

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