Coastal Marshes More Resilient to Sea-Level Rise Than Previously Believed
December 21, 2015 07:21 AM - Duke University
Accelerating rates of sea-level rise linked to climate change pose a major threat to coastal marshes and the vital carbon capturing they perform. But a new Duke University study finds marshes may be more resilient than previously believed.
Are you smarter than a fruit fly?
December 5, 2015 08:13 AM - Northwestern University
Northwestern University neuroscientists now can read the mind of a fly. They have developed a clever new tool that lights up active conversations between neurons during a behavior or sensory experience, such as smelling a banana. Mapping the pattern of individual neural connections could provide insights into the computational processes that underlie the workings of the human brain.
In a study focused on three of the fruit fly’s sensory systems, the researchers used fluorescent molecules of different colors to tag neurons in the brain to see which connections were active during a sensory experience that happened hours earlier.
Should we say goodbye to cacti?
December 2, 2015 07:23 AM - Kevin Mathews, Care2
It’s hard not to think of a cactus as a resilient plant. Living in hot, drought-stricken climates, if it can survive there, surely it can make it through anything. Sadly, this assumption is not reality for the cactus. As an international team of researchers discovered, nearly one-third of all cactus species face a looming threat of extinction.
Earth's first ecosystems were more complex than previously thought
November 28, 2015 06:44 AM - Universtity of Bristol
Computer simulations have allowed scientists to work out how a puzzling 555-million-year-old organism with no known modern relatives fed, revealing that some of the first large, complex organisms on Earth formed ecosystems that were much more complex than previously thought.
The international team of researchers from Canada, the UK and the USA, including Dr Imran Rahman from the University of Bristol, studied fossils of an extinct organism called Tribrachidium, which lived in the oceans some 555 million years ago. Using a computer modelling approach called computational fluid dynamics, they were able to show that Tribrachidium fed by collecting particles suspended in water. This is called suspension feeding and it had not previously been documented in organisms from this period of time.
These 10 Endangered Species are Running Out of Room to Roam
November 25, 2015 06:27 AM - Alicia Graef, Care2
It’s never been easier for us to get where we want to go, but our growing transportation systems mixed with development are taking a serious toll on wildlife, from tiny amphibians to large mammals, and pushing some who are already in danger of disappearing even closer to the brink.
A new report from the Endangered Species Coalition, No Room to Roam: 10 American Species in Need of Connectivity and Corridor, focuses on imperiled species who need just what the title says: room to roam.
Tourists may bring more home than just souvenirs
November 23, 2015 07:17 AM - Amy McDermott, MONGABAY.COM
Invasive species are great hitchhikers. They float in the ballast of ships, lurk in luggage, stick to unwashed sports gear, and cling to the soles of hiking boots. Scientists focus on stopping them from spreading because, once a new species gets rooted, it is expensive to manage and nearly impossible to remove.
Shipping and industry are the major pathways for invasive species, but studies have also shown that tourists can spread them into protected wilderness.
Half the world's natural history specimens may have the wrong name
November 17, 2015 07:07 AM - University of Oxford
Even the most accomplished naturalist can find it difficult to tell one species of plant from another or accurately decide which genus a small insect belongs to. So when a new specimen arrives at a museum, finding the right name from existing records can sometimes prove difficult. In turn, that can lead to specimens being given the wrong name – which can prove problematic for biologists.
Climate change is impacting birds more than previously thought
November 16, 2015 01:30 PM - Oxford University Press via ScienceDaily
Scientists have long known that birds are feeling the heat due to climate change. However, a new study of a dozen affected species in the Western Cape suggests their decline is more complex than previously thought -- and in some cases more serious.
According to the study, published in Conservation Physiology, by scientists from the Percy Fitzpatrick Institute at the University of Cape Town and Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, there could be several reasons why birds are being negatively affected by human-made climate change.
Would you choose love over food?
November 13, 2015 06:59 AM - University of Oxford
Scientists from the Department of Zoology found that mated pairs of great tits chose to prioritise their relationships over sustenance in a novel experiment that prevented couples from foraging in the same location. This also meant birds ended up spending a significant amount of time with their partners' flock-mates. And, over time, the pairs may even have learned to cooperate to allow each other to scrounge from off-limits feeding stations.
To Kill or Not to Kill: The Great Specimen Debate
November 12, 2015 07:20 AM - Shreya Dasgupta, MONGABAY.COM
Indeed, museum collections are fascinating. Many of us probably still gawk at stuffed collections of extant and extinct birds, beetles, vibrantly-colored butterflies, and other animals that fill up glass cases and exhibition halls. Many of these collections were borne out of expeditions to remote parts of the world; treks that involved trapping, killing, preserving and cataloging animals that explorers encountered. Many of these collections have been useful in shaping what we know of the natural world. However, species conservation or scientific advancement was not always the goal of animal-collection. Often, it was done simply to suit the aesthetic whims of society’s elite.