Wildlife

An ingredient in your sunscreen can be killing sharks
June 30, 2016 06:51 AM - Natalia Lima, Care2

Most animal lovers wouldn’t dream of harming an animal for fashion. Fur? No, thank you. Leather? I don’t think so. Yet they might be unknowingly killing sharks — and highly endangered kinds on top of that — for their beauty routine.

Unbeknownst to most, one little ingredient in products like sunscreens, moisturizing lotions, lip balms, lipsticks and face creams is responsible for the death of over three million sharks annually.

 

Crucial peatlands carbon-sink vulnerable to rising sea levels
June 29, 2016 05:06 PM - University of Exeter via EurekAlert!

Rising sea-levels linked to global warming could pose a significant threat to the effectiveness of the world's peatland areas as carbon sinks, a new study has shown.

The pioneering new study, carried out by Geographers at the University of Exeter, examined the impact that salt found in sea water has on how successfully peatland ecosystems accumulate carbon from the atmosphere.

The researchers studied an area of blanket bog - a peat bog that forms in cool regions susceptible to high rainfall - at Kentra Moss, in Northwest Scotland.

Humans artificially drive evolution of new species
June 29, 2016 07:14 AM - University of Copenhagen via EurekAlert!

Species across the world are rapidly going extinct due to human activities, but humans are also causing rapid evolution and the emergence of new species. A new study published today summarises the causes of manmade speciation, and discusses why newly evolved species cannot simply replace extinct wild species. The study was led by the Center for Macroecology, Evolution and Climate at the University of Copenhagen. 

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."

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."

Threats to habitat connectivity as sea waters inundate coastal areas
June 21, 2016 07:05 AM - Jim Melvin, Clemson University

By the year 2100, sea levels might rise as much as 2.5 meters above their current levels, which would seriously threaten coastal cities and other low-lying areas. In turn, this would force animals to migrate farther inland in search of higher ground. But accelerated urbanization, such as the rapidly expanding Piedmont area that stretches from Atlanta to eastern North Carolina, could cut off their escape routes and create climate-induced extinctions.

First Mammal Goes Extinct From Manmade Climate Change
June 17, 2016 07:23 AM - Kevin Mathews, Care2

We’ve reached a sad milestone: Climate change has claimed its first mammal species. Scientists have been warning us that a large percentage of species will face extinction thanks to manmade global warming, and the future is unfortunately here.

According to The Guardian, climate change’s first mammal victim was an adorable rodent known as the Bramble Cay melomys. Sometimes called a mosaic-tailed rat, the melomys was named after Bramble Cay, an Australian island close to Papua New Guinea, that was the only known home for the species.

A Plan to Mute Ocean Noise for Marine Life
June 15, 2016 06:37 AM - Laura Goldman, Care2

Imagine trying to relax in your home while being bombarded with the explosive sounds of shotgun blasts as well as freight trains rumbling by. For many whales, dolphins and other marine life that depend on their hearing to survive, there is no way to escape the loud, human-made noises in their ocean home. The main culprits are vessels like cargo ships, along with sonar guns used by the U.S. Navy and air guns used in seismic oil and gas exploration. Their blasts are so loud that they are known to change the behavior of blue whales. But now, in what Michael Jasny, director of the Natural Resources Defense Council’s Marine Mammal Protection Project, Land & Wildlife Program, referred to as “a sea change in the way we manage ocean noise off our shores,” NOAA has announced it plans to take action to reduce the noise in entire marine ecosystems.

CDC publishes new map showing US locations of potential Zika-carrying mosquitoes
June 14, 2016 07:10 AM - Michaeleen Doucleff, NPR

A few months ago, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published a startling map that showed the parts of the U.S. that could harbor mosquitoes capable of carrying Zika. The map made it look like a vast swath of the country was at risk for Zika, including New England and the Upper Midwest. Well, not quite. On Thursday, CDC scientists published another mosquito map for the U.S. And it paints a very different picture.

Antarctic lakes are a repository for ancient soot
June 13, 2016 04:08 PM - National Science Foundation via ScienceDaily

Remote lakes in a perpetually ice-free area of Antarctica show not only the chemical signature of ancient wildfires, but also some much more recent evidence of fossil-fuel combustion, according to National Science Foundation (NSF)-funded research published this week in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

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