Pipelines affect health, fitness of salmon, study finds
June 28, 2016 02:26 PM - University of Guelph via EurekAlert!
Pipelines carrying crude oil to ports in British Columbia may spell bad news for salmon, according to a new University of Guelph-led study.
Exposure to an oil sands product - diluted bitumen - impairs the swimming ability and changes the heart structures of young salmon.
The research will be published in the journal Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, and is available online now.
It's a timely finding, says U of G post-doctoral researcher and lead author Sarah Alderman.
The National Energy Board (NEB) recently approved the controversial Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project; the federal government is expected to make a final decision by December.
Climate Change Is Happening Faster Than African Crops Can Handle It
June 28, 2016 11:20 AM - Susan Bird, Care2
Crop yields in Africa will nosedive ten years from now unless we can develop varieties that can better deal with climate change. Unfortunately, we’re not breeding those hardier varieties fast enough.
That’s the sobering conclusion of a study published in the journal Nature Climate Change by researchers from the University of Leeds. As temperatures rise, crop yields fall. This is particularly true for staple crops like corn, bananas and beans raised in hot tropical areas.
Picky eaters: Bumble bees prefer plants with nutrient-rich pollen
June 27, 2016 04:39 PM - Penn State via EurekAlert!
Bumble bees have discriminating palettes when it comes to their pollen meals, according to researchers at Penn State. The researchers found that bumble bees can detect the nutritional quality of pollen, and that this ability helps them selectively forage among plant species to optimize their diets.
"Populations of many bee species are in decline across the world, and poor nutrition is thought to be a major factor causing these declines," said Christina Grozinger, director of the Center for Pollinator Research, Penn State. "Our studies can help identify plant species and stocks that provide high-quality nutrition for bumble bees and potentially other bee species, which will help in the development of pollinator-friendly gardens and planting strips."
Wind-blown Antarctic sea ice helps drive ocean circulation
June 27, 2016 11:34 AM - The Earth Institute at Columbia University via EurekAlert!
Antarctic sea ice is constantly on the move as powerful winds blow it away from the coast and out toward the open ocean. A new study shows how that ice migration may be more important for the global ocean circulation than anyone realized.
A team of scientists used a computer model to synthesize millions of ocean and ice observations collected over six years near Antarctica, and estimated, for the first time, the influence of sea ice, glacier ice, precipitation and heating on ocean overturning circulation. Overturning circulation brings deep water and nutrients up to the surface, carries surface water down, and distributes heat and helps store carbon dioxide as it flows through the world's oceans, making it an important force in the global climate system. The scientists found that freshwater played the most powerful role in changing water density, which drives circulation, and that melting of wind-blown sea ice contributed 10 times more freshwater than melting of land-based glaciers did.
Neonicotinoid pesticides cause harm to honeybees
June 24, 2016 04:38 PM - Johannes Gutenberg Universitaet Mainz via EurekAlert!
One possible cause of the alarming bee mortality we are witnessing is the use of the very active systemic insecticides called neonicotinoids. A previously unknown and harmful effect of neonicotinoids has been identified by researchers at the Mainz University Medical Center and Goethe University Frankfurt. They discovered that neonicotinoids in low and field-relevant concentrations reduce the concentration of acetylcholine in the royal jelly/larval food secreted by nurse bees. This signaling molecule is relevant for the development of the honeybee larvae. At higher doses, neonicotinoids also damage the so-called microchannels of the royal jelly gland in which acetylcholine is produced. The results of this research have been recently published in the eminent scientific journal PloS ONE.
Where do rubber trees get their rubber?
June 24, 2016 03:33 PM - RIKEN via EurekAlert!
Researchers at the RIKEN Center for Sustainable Resource Science (CSRS) in Japan along with collaborators at Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) have succeeded in decoding the genome sequence for Hevea brasiliensis, the natural rubber tree native to Brazil. Published in Scientific Reports, the study reports a draft genome sequence that covers more than 93% of expressed genes, and pinpoints regions specific to the biosynthesis of rubber.
Natural rubber flows in latex ducts and protects plants from insects when the plant becomes injured. For humans, it is an important resource for many industrial applications because it has several useful properties that have not been reproducible in synthetic petroleum-based rubber. While some strains of rubber tree yield higher amounts of rubber than others, the reasons for this are still unknown. The team led by Minami Matsui at the RIKEN CSRS and Alexander Chong at USM set out to sequence and analyze the H. brasiliensis genome. Explains first author Nyok Sean Lau, "genomic information can reveal which genes contribute to the rubber tree's capacity to produce high amounts of latex. This in turn will help us develop rubber trees with higher yields."
Warning from the past: Future global warming could be even warmer
June 24, 2016 07:05 AM - Niels Bohr Institute
Future global warming will not only depend on the amount of emissions from man-made greenhouse gasses, but will also depend on the sensitivity of the climate system and response to feedback mechanisms. By reconstructing past global warming and the carbon cycle on Earth 56 million years ago, researchers from the Niels Bohr Institute among others have used computer modelling to calculate the potential perspective for future global warming, which could be even warmer than previously thought. The results are published in the scientific journal, Geophysical Research Letters.
Researchers discover oldest evidence of 'farming' -- by insects
June 23, 2016 04:56 PM - National Science Foundation via EurekAlert!
Scientists have discovered the oldest fossil evidence of agriculture -- not by humans, but by insects.
The team, led by Eric Roberts of James Cook University along with researchers from Ohio University, discovered the oldest known examples of "fungus gardens" in 25 million-year-old fossil termite nests in East Africa.
The results are published today in the journal PLOS ONE.
Some termite species cultivate fungi in "gardens" in subterranean nests or chambers, helping to convert plant material into a more easily digestible termite food source.
Volcanoes get quiet before they erupt!
June 23, 2016 03:43 PM - Carnegie Institution for Science via EurekAlert!
When dormant volcanoes are about to erupt, they show some predictive characteristics--seismic activity beneath the volcano starts to increase, gas escapes through the vent, or the surrounding ground starts to deform. However, until now, there has not been a way to forecast eruptions of more restless volcanoes because of the constant seismic activity and gas and steam emissions. Carnegie volcanologist Diana Roman, working with a team of scientists from Penn State, Oxford University, the University of Iceland, and INETER* has shown that periods of seismic quiet occur immediately before eruptions and can thus be used to forecast an impending eruption for restless volcanoes. The duration of the silence can indicate the level of energy that will be released when eruption occurs. Longer quiet periods mean a bigger bang. The research is published inEarth and Planetary Science Letters.
2 ways to limit the number of heat-related deaths from climate change
June 23, 2016 07:16 AM - Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health via EurekAlert!
By the 2080s, as many as 3,331 people could die every year from exposure to heat during the summer months in New York City. The high estimate by Columbia University scientists is based on a new model--the first to account for variability in future population size, greenhouse gas trajectories, and the extent to which residents adapt to heat through interventions like air conditioning and public cooling centers. Results appear online in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.