Panama’s sloths harbor potential drugs
January 30, 2014 09:29 AM - Fred Fertado, SciDevNet
Sloths may be slow, apparently boring animals, but their hair is fast becoming an intriguing avenue for scientists seeking new drugs, including antibiotics and cancer-fighting compounds. A paper published in PLOS One this month (15 January) shows that sloth hair harbors a rich diversity of fungi whose extracts may contain a treasure trove of compounds active against bacteria, breast cancer cells and the parasites that cause malaria and Chagas’ disease.
Extreme Weather Events Create Uncertain Future for Penguins
January 30, 2014 05:34 AM - EurekAlert
Changes in average climatic conditions combined with the increasing frequency of unpredictable, extreme weather events may disrupt scientific predictions of the future penguin populations, according to a study published in PLOS ONE on January 29, 2014 by Amélie Lescroël from the Centre d'Ecologie Fonctionnelle et Evolutive (CNRS), France and colleagues.
Slowing down the floodwaters
January 29, 2014 10:41 AM - Robin Blackstone, ENN
Putting something called "Natural Engineering" to work in a five-year research project, Newcastle University in cooperation with the Environment Agency are discovering the benefits utilizing the land's natural defenses to slow river flow downstream and prevent flooding. Slowing down water in anticipation of flooding events is being tested all over the world. Strategies include the use of retention basins; wetlands development; levee systems and floodwalls but Newcastle University researchers directed by Dr. Mark Wilkinson are employing additional water retention strategies further up in the catchment system. The Belford Burn is a small catchment system located in Northumberland, a community just south of the Scottish border.
Amazing discovery in Antarctica: sea anemones found living upside down under ice
January 28, 2014 09:12 AM - Jeremey Hance, MONGABAY.COM
Sea anemones are supposed to sit on the bottom of the ocean, using their basal disc (or adhesive foot) to rest on a coral reef or sand. So, imagine the surprise of geologists in Antarctica when they discovered a mass of sea anemones hanging upside from the underside of the Ross Ice Shelf like a village of wispy ghosts.
Island Living Shapes Physiology and Lifestyle of Eastern Bluebirds
January 27, 2014 03:56 PM - ENN Staff
Island plants and animals often differ from their mainland relatives. Why? In general, isolated islands lack top predators and large herbivores, which can influence food chains and traits of island organisms. In addition, differences in human interactions and threats posed by pathogens and parasites can also contribute to variances in traits. In a case study involving eastern bluebirds, (Sialia sialis) researchers show just how island life shapes the physiology and life history of a species.
Mice and Moose and climate change
January 26, 2014 09:26 AM - Roger Greenway, ENN
How do animals adjust to a warming climate? Do all animals respond in the same way? According to a new study by the University of Colorado at Boulder, if you were a shrew snuffling around a North American forest, you would be 27 times less likely to respond to climate change than if you were a moose grazing nearby. That is just one of the findings of a new University of Colorado Boulder assessment led by Assistant Professor Christy McCain that looked at more than 1,000 different scientific studies on North American mammal responses to human-caused climate change. The CU-Boulder team eventually selected 140 scientific papers containing population responses from 73 North American mammal species for their analysis. "If we can determine which mammals are responding to climate change and the ones that are at risk of disappearing, then we can tailor conservation efforts more toward those individual species," said McCain. "Hopefully, this potential loss or decline of our national iconic mammals will spur more people to curb climate impacts by reducing overuse of fossil fuels."
Control of the lion fish
January 24, 2014 09:32 AM - Robin Blackstone, ENN
A recent Oregon State University study shows that controlling the invasive lionfish in the western Atlantic Ocean is likely to allow for recovery of native fish. The lionfish is estimated to have wiped out 95% of native fish in some Atlantic locations. This Atlantic invasion is believed to have begun in the 1980s and now covers an area larger than the United States.
Biofuel crops 'may amplify mosquito-borne disease'
January 23, 2014 01:29 PM - Wagdy Sawahel, SciDevNet
The expansion of the some biofuel crops may unwittingly increase the risk of mosquito-borne disease by altering the insects' life cycle, a study suggests. The so-called first-generation biofuel crops, most notably maize, are increasingly being replaced by second-generation biofuel crops, such as perennial grasses, which require less energy, water, fertilizers and pesticides to thrive.
New study shows differences in mammal responses to climate change
January 23, 2014 09:46 AM - University of Colorado Boulder
If you were a shrew snuffling around a North American forest, you would be 27 times less likely to respond to climate change than if you were a moose grazing nearby. That is just one of the findings of a new University of Colorado Boulder assessment led by Assistant Professor Christy McCain that looked at more than 1,000 different scientific studies on North American mammal responses to human-caused climate change. The CU-Boulder team eventually selected 140 scientific papers containing population responses from 73 North American mammal species for their analysis.
One quarter of all sharks and rays are threatened with extinction
January 23, 2014 08:09 AM - Loren Bell, Mongabay-Indonesia correspondent, MONGABAY.COM
One quarter of all sharks and rays are threatened with extinction, according to a new study published in the open-access journal eLife. The paper analyzed the threat and conservation status of 1,041 species of chondrichthyans—the class of fish whose skeletons are made of cartilage instead of bone which includes sharks, rays, skates and chimaeras—and found this group to be among the most threatened animals in the world.