Urbanization affects diets of butterflies
August 18, 2016 11:34 AM - National University of Singapore via EurekAlert!
A study led by researchers from the National University of Singapore (NUS) revealed that most tropical butterflies feed on a variety of flower types, but those that are 'picky' about their flower diets tend to prefer native plants and are more dependent on forests. These 'picky' butterflies also have wings that are more conspicuous and shorter proboscis. The reduction in native plants due to urbanisation affects the diet of such butterflies, and researchers suggest that intervention may be needed to manage their preferred flower resources.
Can't stand the heat? Study reveals how we work out if we're too hot
August 17, 2016 04:38 PM - KCL via EurekAlert!
With temperatures soaring across the UK, our ability to detect and avoid places that are too warm is vital for regulating our body temperature. However, until now, little was known about the molecular mechanisms responsible for detecting warmth in the sensory neurons of our skin.
A new King's College London study, published today in Nature, reveals that a gene called TRPM2 initiates a 'warm' signal in mice that drives them to seek cooler environments. When this gene is removed, the mice are unable to distinguish between cool and warm temperatures.
Flowering meadows benefit humankind
August 17, 2016 03:16 PM - Technical University of Munich (TUM) via EurekAlert!
The more it swarms, crawls and flies the better it is for humans. This is the finding of a study published in "Nature". More than 60 researchers from a number of universities were involved, including the Technical University of Munich, the Institute of Plant Sciences at the University of Bern and the Senckenberg Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre in Frankfurt. A diverse ecosystem populated by many species from all levels of the food chain provides higher levels of ecosystem services, the team reports. Even rather unpopular insects and invisible soil-dwelling organisms are important in maintaining a wide range of ecosystem services. The results underline the necessity of maintaining species-rich ecosystems for the good of humanity.
One hour of physical activity per day could offset health risk of 8 hours of sitting
July 28, 2016 07:10 AM - The Lancet via EurekAlert!
A new study of over 1 million people finds that doing at least one hour of physical activity per day, such as brisk walking or cycling for pleasure, may eliminate the increased risk of death associated with sitting for 8h a day.
Physical inactivity is linked to an increased risk of heart disease, diabetes and some cancers and is associated with more than 5 million deaths per year and, as the first global economic analysis of physical inactivity shows, costs the world economy over US$67.5 billion per year in health care costs and lost productivity.
Montreal households the greenest in Canada: UBC study
July 27, 2016 11:51 AM - University of British Columbia via EurekAlert!
Montreal homes are the most sustainable in the country, and Edmonton's the least, according to a new University of British Columbia study that compares average household greenhouse gas emissions in major cities across Canada.
Using census data over a 12-year span, researchers ranked cities on how much carbon dioxide the average Canadian family (two to three people) with an annual income of $81,000 in each city produced in a year from the combined use of electricity, gasoline and natural gas.
The average Montreal household produces five tonnes of GHG per family per year, while the average Edmonton household emits 20 tonnes per family per year.
Mobile app for rain forecasts raises farmers' yields
July 14, 2016 07:12 AM - Baraka Rateng, SciDevNet
A mobile phone-based innovation that can predict rain is helping farmers in six Sub-Saharan Africa countries sow, fertilise and harvest crops at the optimum time.
The innovation is being used in Cote d'Ivoire, Ghana, Mali, Niger, Nigeria and Senegal to improve crop yields and optimise food production through information and communication technology (ICT) weather forecasting model that produces Global Positioning System (GPS)-specific forecasts.
Paris bans old cars on weekdays
July 3, 2016 08:29 AM - ELEANOR BEARDSLEY, NPR
Paris was at the forefront of public bike-sharing schemes, and it now has electric car-sharing schemes and is something of a laboratory for mobility. As of today, motorists with cars built before 1997, and motorcycles built before 2000, will no longer be able to drive them in the city during daylight hours on weekdays.
Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo says keeping old cars out of the city will help lower pollution levels. But not everyone is happy about it.
Marc Vernhet makes his living driving tourists around Paris in the classic French car known as the Deux Chevaux, or two-horse power. Peugeot Citroen no longer makes the model, but for collectors, it's a nostalgic symbol of the good old days. Vernhet says tourists from all over the world want to ride in them.
New technology could improve use of small-scale hydropower in developing nations
July 1, 2016 07:10 AM - Oregon State University via EurekAlert!
Engineers at Oregon State University have created a new computer modeling package that people anywhere in the world could use to assess the potential of a stream for small-scale, “run of river” hydropower, an option to produce electricity that’s of special importance in the developing world.
The system is easy to use; does not require data that is often unavailable in foreign countries or remote locations; and can consider hydropower potential not only now, but in the future as projected changes in climate and stream runoff occur.
Household fuels exceed power plants and cars as source of smog in Beijing
June 27, 2016 03:40 PM - Princeton University via EurekAlert!
Beijing and surrounding areas of China often suffer from choking smog. The Chinese government has made commitments to improving air quality and has achieved notable results in reducing emissions from the power and transportation sectors. However, new research indicates that the government could achieve dramatic air quality improvements with more attention on an overlooked source of outdoor pollution -- residential cooking and heating.
"Coal and other dirty solid fuels are frequently used in homes for cooking and heating," said Denise Mauzerall, a professor of civil and environmental engineering and public and international affairs at Princeton University. "Because these emissions are essentially uncontrolled they emit a disproportionately large amount of air pollutants which contribute substantially to smog in Beijing and surrounding regions."
Where and when were dogs first domesticated?
June 3, 2016 10:31 AM - Oxford University
Supported by funding from the European Research Council and the Natural Environment Research Council, a large international team of scientists compared genetic data with existing archaeological evidence and show that man’s best friend may have emerged independently from two separate (possibly now extinct) wolf populations that lived on opposite sides of the Eurasian continent. This means that dogs may have been domesticated not once, as widely believed, but twice.
A major international research project on dog domestication, led by the University of Oxford, has reconstructed the evolutionary history of dogs by first sequencing the genome (at Trinity College Dublin) of a 4,800-year old medium-sized dog from bone excavated at the Neolithic Passage Tomb of Newgrange, Ireland. The team (including French researchers based in Lyon and at the National Museum of Natural History in Paris) also obtained mitochondrial DNA from 59 ancient dogs living between 14,000 to 3,000 years ago and then compared them with the genetic signatures of more than 2,500 previously studied modern dogs.