Happy 'Love a Tree Day'!
May 16, 2016 07:19 AM - Judy Molland, Care2
What’s not to love about trees? May 16 marks National Love a Tree Day, which gives everyone a chance to get out and appreciate the
You probably know about the largest living tree: situated in the Giant Forest in California’s Sequoia National Park, the General Sherman tree, a giant sequoia, is the largest living organism, by volume, on our planet. It is 2,100 years old, weighs an estimated 2.7 million pounds, stands 275 feet tall and is 100 feet wide at its trunk. Pretty impressive!
But you don’t have to travel to California to appreciate trees – in fact, they are everywhere!
You are what you eat
May 12, 2016 07:31 AM - Indiana University Bloomington
Biologists at Indiana University have significantly advanced understanding of the genetic pathways that control the appearance of different physical traits in the same species depending on nutritional conditions experienced during development.
In many animals, nutrition -- not genetic differences -- controls the appearance of certain physical traits. Ants and bees, for example, grow into workers or queens based upon the food eaten as larvae.
Coastal birds understand tides and the moon's phases
May 4, 2016 07:28 AM - CENTRAL ORNITHOLOGY PUBLICATION OFFICE via EurekAlert
Coastal wading birds shape their lives around the tides, and new research in The Auk: Ornithological Advances shows that different species respond differently to shifting patterns of high and low water according to their size and daily schedules, even following prey cycles tied to the phases of the moon.
Many birds rely on the shallow water of the intertidal zone for foraging, but this habitat appears and disappears as the tide ebbs and flows, with patterns that go through monthly cycles of strong "spring" and weak "neap" tides. Leonardo Calle of Montana State University (formerly Florida Atlantic University) and his colleagues wanted to assess how wading birds respond to these changes, because different species face different constraints--longer-legged birds can forage in deeper water than those with shorter legs, and birds that are only active during the day have different needs than those that will forage day or night.
Coral Reef Discovered Near Mouth of Amazon River
April 27, 2016 07:07 AM - Jessica Ramos, Care2
While currently more than half of the world’s coral reefs are potentially threatened by humans, scientists just made an incredible discovery: a coral reef the size of Delaware flourishing near the mouth of the murky and Amazon River in Brazil.
Coral reefs don’t typically thrive in murky waters, which makes the discovery even more shocking.
Long-eared bat denied habitat protection under the Endangered Species Act
April 26, 2016 12:13 PM - Center for Biological Diversity
Although northern long-eared bat populations have declined by 90 percent in their core range, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today said it will not protect any of its critical habitat, saying it would not be “prudent” for the species. Under the Endangered Species Act, the government can opt not to designate critical habitat if there is factual evidence that a species would be placed at greater risk of extinction from poachers, collectors or vandals. But in the case of the northern long-eared bat, which is listed as “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act, there is almost no evidence that the species is at risk from these types of threats. Instead its dramatic decline has been driven mostly by disease and habitat loss.
“This is a terrible turn of events for the northern long-eared bat,” said Tanya Sanerib, an attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. “If you don’t protect the places endangered species live, it becomes that much harder to save them. This is yet another instance where the Fish and Wildlife Service has gone out of its way to appease special interests rather than protecting our most vulnerable animals.”
Chernobyl, three decades on
April 26, 2016 06:45 AM - Steven Powell, University of South Carolina
It was 30 years ago that a meltdown at the V. I. Lenin Nuclear Power Station in the former Soviet Union released radioactive contaminants into the surroundings in northern Ukraine. Airborne contamination from what is now generally termed the Chernobyl disaster spread well beyond the immediate environs of the power plant, and a roughly 1000-square-mile region in Ukraine, Belarus and Russia remains cordoned off, an exclusion zone where human habitation is forbidden.
The radiation spill was a disaster for the environment and its biological inhabitants, but it also created a unique radio-ecological laboratory.
Sandhill cranes vs windmills
April 21, 2016 11:37 AM - USGS Newsroom
The current placement of wind energy towers in the central and southern Great Plains may have relatively few negative effects on sandhill cranes wintering in the region, according to a U.S. Geological Survey study published today.
Midcontinental sandhill cranes are important to sporting and tourism industries in the Great Plains, an area where wind energy development recently surged. Scientists with the USGS compared crane location data from the winters of 1998-2007 with current wind tower sites in Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas and New Mexico prairies. Findings showed only a seven percent overlap between cranes and towers, and that most towers have been placed in areas not often used by cranes during the winter.
Ocean currents push phytoplankton and pollution faster than thought
April 20, 2016 06:50 AM - Princeton University
The billions of single-celled marine organisms known as phytoplankton can drift from one region of the world's oceans to almost any other place on the globe in less than a decade, Princeton University researchers have found.
Unfortunately, the same principle can apply to plastic debris, radioactive particles and virtually any other man-made flotsam and jetsam that litter our seas, the researchers found. Pollution can thus become a problem far from where it originated within just a few years.
Moths in cities have learned to avoid man-made light
April 13, 2016 11:35 AM - UNIVERSITY OF BASEL via EurekAlert
The globally increasing light pollution has negative effects on organisms and entire ecosystems. The consequences are especially hard on nocturnal insects, since their attraction to artificial light sources generally ends fatal. A new study by Swiss zoologists from the Universities of Basel and Zurich now shows that urban moths have learned to avoid light. The journal Biology Letters has published their results.
Some insects are attracted by light while others shy away from it. Proverbial is the attraction light has on moths. Street lamps and other artificial light sources often become death traps for nocturnal insects such as moths. Either they die through direct burning or through increased exposure to predators. Mortality of urban insects can thus be 40- to 100- fold higher than in rural populations.
Good news for the Iberian lynx!
April 6, 2016 09:04 AM - World Wildlife Federation
WWF welcomes the 2015 Iberian lynx census released today by the government of Andalusia. The survey shows a significant increase in population with the Iberian lynx reaching the highest number since the species was found to be the most endangered cat in the world in 2002.
The latest population figure of 404 individuals is up from the 327 recorded in 2014. The survey identified 120 breeding females divided into five areas of the Iberian Peninsula including four in Spain – Doñana, Sierra Morena, Montes de Toledo, Valley Matachel – as well as Portugal’s Vale do Guadiana.