How did humans domesticate wild rabbits?
August 30, 2014 10:23 AM - University of Montana via EurekAlert
Until recently, little has been known about what genetic changes transform wild animals into domesticated ones. An international team of scientists, one of whom is a University of Montana assistant professor, has made a breakthrough by showing that genes controlling the development of the brain and the nervous system were particularly important for rabbit domestication. The study was published Aug. 28 in Science and gives answers to many genetic questions.
Puffins in New England
August 29, 2014 03:36 PM - PETER BAKER/ecoRI News contributor
I can't help but smile when I see a puffin, and I know I'm not alone. Thousands of people board tour boats each summer in Maine to get a glimpse of these charming seabirds with their tuxedo plumage and rainbow beaks. But what's in those beaks is serious business. The forage fish that puffin parents bring back to their island nests mean the difference between life and death for the chicks, and the past few years offer stark evidence of what happens when those fish become scarce.
Reducing Water Scarcity
August 29, 2014 02:53 PM - McGill University
Water scarcity is not a problem just for the developing world. In California, legislators are currently proposing a $7.5 billion emergency water plan to their voters; and U.S. federal officials last year warned residents of Arizona and Nevada that they could face cuts in Colorado River water deliveries in 2016. Irrigation techniques, industrial and residential habits combined with climate change lie at the root of the problem. But despite what appears to be an insurmountable problem, according to researchers from McGill and Utrecht University it is possible to turn the situation around and significantly reduce water scarcity in just over 35 years.
Abandoned landfills are a big problem
August 29, 2014 10:30 AM - Alex Peel, Planet Earth Online
Abandoned landfill sites throughout the UK routinely leach polluting chemicals into rivers, say scientists. At Port Meadow alone, on the outskirts of Oxford, they estimate 27.5 tonnes of ammonium a year find their way from landfill into the River Thames. The researchers say it could be happening at thousands of sites around the UK.
Study Suggests More Research before Fracking Continues
August 29, 2014 07:22 AM - ClickGreen Staff, ClickGreen
An independent report on fracking has recommended a temporary moratorium on the controversial process and says that communities should give permission before it can proceed. The interdisciplinary expert panel set up by the Nova Scotia regional government says the science of fracking is relatively unknown and therefore its introduction should be delayed in the Province until the science and its environmental effects are better understood.
Dengue reported in Japan
August 28, 2014 06:23 PM - Dennis Normile, Science
After reporting the country's first domestically acquired case of dengue fever in nearly 70 years yesterday, Japan's health ministry today confirmed finding two more patients. The initial patient, a girl in her teens, had a sudden onset of high fever on 20 August and was hospitalized in Saitama City, near Tokyo. Hospital staff, suspecting dengue, on 26 August sent blood samples to the National Institute of Infectious Diseases in Tokyo, which confirmed the diagnosis.
"Global Roadmap" Created to Balance Development with Environmental Protection
August 28, 2014 11:49 AM - Morgan Erickson-Davis, MONGABAY.COM
Roads make it possible to bring goods to market, to get to the office, to log a forest, to hunt its wildlife. Without roads, human society as we know it could not exist. However, to build roads, trees must be cleared and swamps drained, shrinking valuable wildlife habitat and fragmenting populations in the process. A new study, published today in Nature, unveils an innovative map that defines which areas of the world would best be used to build roads — and which should be left alone. Scientists estimate more than 25 million kilometers of new roads will be built worldwide by 2050, representing a 60 percent increase over 2010 numbers. Many of these are slated for environmentally valuable places with high numbers of unique species and pristine forest, such as the Amazon Basin.
Monarch Butterflies need Endangered Species Act protection
August 28, 2014 09:49 AM - Alicia Graef, Care2
As monarch butterflies are beginning their epic migration from Canada and the U.S. to Mexico for the winter, concerns about the drastic rate at which they're disappearing from the landscape have led environmental and health organizations to petition the government for federal protection. This week, the Center for Biological Diversity, Center for Food Safety, Xerces Society and monarch scientist Dr. Lincoln Brower filed a legal petition with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service seeking protection for monarchs under the Endangered Species Act.
Mystery Behind Slithering Rocks of Death Valley Revealed
August 28, 2014 09:38 AM - Allison Winter, ENN
In California's Death Valley, a geological phenomenon exists. Sailing stones, or moving rocks can be observed on the valley floor inscribing long trails on the ground without human or animal intervention. For over 60 years of observations, no one has been able to uncover the mystery of what is actually pushing these stones across the sand. That is, until now.
Yawn Contagion in Wolves
August 27, 2014 04:15 PM - Editor, ENN
A yawn is defined as a reflex act of opening one's mouth and inhaling deeply. We yawn most often when we are tired or when we're bored. But we also always yawn when we see someone else doing it. Why? People say we can't help it - it's contagious! But what really triggers this involuntary tendency? According to studies, yawning when others do is a sign of empathy and a form of social bonding. And believe it or not, we're not the only species to exhibit these contagious behaviors. A new study published today in the journal PLOS ONE shows that wolves may also be susceptible to yawn contagion.