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New Research Questions Invasive Bird Introduction to Manage Tick Populations in Turkey

As Turkey raises and releases thousands of non-native helmeted guineafowl (Numida meleagris) to eat ticks that carry the deadly Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever virus, new research suggests guineafowl actually eat few ticks, carry the parasites on their feathers, and further spread the disease. >> Read the Full Article

Orphaned Siberian Tiger Cubs Prepared to be Returned to Nature

Last fall, in the frigid, snowy forests of the Russian Far East, three wild tiger cubs lost their most important ally: their mother. Our story began on Nov. 29 with a phone call to the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) office in Vladivostok from Vladimir Vasiliev, the head of the regional wildlife department, Okhotnazor. He requested our assistance in capturing the four-month-old cubs, which had created a stir near a small village by attempting to make a meal out of a farmer's dog. We responded immediately by deploying WCS conservationists (and brothers) Kolya and Sasha Rybin, two of the best tiger trackers in the world. The WCS team met up with rangers from the Russian agency, Inspection Tiger, the local inspector from Okhotnazor, and staff from the Severtsov Institute of Ecology and Evolution before heading out to find the cubs. >> Read the Full Article

Studying Climate Before the Modern Era

Understanding the past is always useful in predicting the future. In this case, how climate fluctuates over time due to natural effects before and and his industry affected it. Tree-rings, ice-cores, and speleothems can all be used to reconstruct climate of the past millennia. But these records may be of local effects and not global as well as being impacted by other events not clear in the mists of time. Researchers of the Swiss Federal Research Institute WSL, the University of Bern’s Oeschger Center, and the University of Mainz have found out that yearly temperature and precipitation variation and extremes have previously been underestimated in comparison to longer-term climatic trends. These findings were just published in an early release issue from the renowned journal Nature Climate Change. >> Read the Full Article

Study Suggests Plants Can Be Altruistic Too

Altruism is the behavior that exudes the selfless concern of one to benefit the well being of another at one's own expense. In the animal kingdom, some of these altruistic notions can be when a dog raises orphaned cats or squirrels or when Vervet monkeys will warn fellow monkeys of the presence of predators even though their alarm call will increase their own chances of being attacked. However, altruism is not only linked to humans and members of the animal kingdom - according to a study from the University of Colorado Boulder, research suggests that some plants may also have an altruistic side. >> Read the Full Article

Beat Depression and Feel Better with More Fruits and Vegetables

According to new research out of the New Zealand's University of Otago, consuming more fruits and vegetables increases calm, happiness, and energy in one's daily life. Perhaps it is the knowledge of eating wholesome, unprocessed foods that fundamentally affects our brains. The body knows that it is doing something right and feels better because of it, both physiologically and mentally. The researchers compared consumption of fruits and vegetables with other types of food, but the difference was clear. To beat depression and increase happiness, fruits and veggies are the way to go. >> Read the Full Article

I'm Lovin' It: McDonald's Opts for Sustainable Fish, Modernity

Last week, McDonald's exhibited bold leadership by agreeing to shift their entire seafood supply-chain to Marine Stewardship Council-approved fish. This assures that fish products from McDonald's will now be sourced from stocks that are sustainable, well-managed and environmentally sound. This amazing move signifies a leap forward for both the labeling model promoted by the Marine Stewardship Council, and for the McDonald's brand. >> Read the Full Article

European Waste Management Systems Found to be Wasteful!

The European Court of Auditors has criticised the EU's waste management infrastructure, which has received €10.8 billion in structural funding since 2000, for its "limited" effectiveness. The average European citizen generates around 500kg of municipal waste per year, a source of environmental degradation unless properly collected, treated and disposed. Refuse can contain important raw materials and resources, and the EU has introduced directives to enforce common waste management standards and targets. It has also co-financed waste management infrastructures in specific regions. >> Read the Full Article

Which Organ to Make Today?

It is a bit of a mystery as to why a body cell develops into an eye or and liver of whatever. For the first time, scientists have altered natural bioelectrical communication among cells to directly specify the type of new organ to be created at a particular location within a vertebrate organism. Using genetic manipulation of membrane voltage in Xenopus (frog) embryos, biologists at Tufts University's School of Arts and Sciences were able to cause tadpoles to grow eyes outside of the head area. >> Read the Full Article

Asteroid Heading Towards Earth, but Don't Worry About an Interception

On Super Bowl Sunday, we are thinking more about football than asteroids hurtling through space that might intercept planet Earth! Turns out, one is heading our way, and on Feb 15th will pass pretty close to our planet. The small near-Earth asteroid 2012 DA14 will pass inside the ring of geosynchronous weather and communications satellites that orbit Earth. NASA's Near-Earth Object Program Office can accurately predict the asteroid's path with the observations obtained, and it is therefore known that there is no chance that the asteroid might be on a collision course with Earth. Nevertheless, the flyby will provide a unique opportunity for researchers to study a near-Earth object up close. Asteroid 2012 DA14 will be closest to Earth on Feb. 15, at about 11:24 p.m. PST (2 p.m. EST and 1924 UT), when it will be at a distance of about 27,700 kilometers (17,200 miles) above Earth's surface. Although this is close enough for the asteroid to pass inside the ring of geosynchronous satellites, located about 35,800 kilometers (22,200 miles) above the equator, it will still be well above the vast majority of satellites, including the International Space Station. At its closest, the asteroid will be only about 1/13th of the distance to the moon. The asteroid will fly by our planet quite rapidly, at a speed of about 17,400 mph (7.8 kilometers per second) in a south-to-north direction with respect to Earth. >> Read the Full Article

Planting Trees Helps Fight Climate Change, but mainly locally

Afforestation, planting trees in an area where there have previously been no trees, can reduce the effect of climate change by cooling temperate regions, finds a study in BioMed Central's open access journal Carbon Balance and Management. Afforestation would lead to cooler and wetter summers by the end of this century. Without check climate change is projected to lead to summer droughts and winter floods across Europe. Using REMO, the regional climate model of the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology, researchers tested what would happen to climate change in 100 years if land currently covered in non-forest vegetation was converted into deciduous forest. This equates to more than a doubling of forest in Poland, Czech Republic, Denmark, Northern Ukraine, Northern Germany and France. But in already heavily forested countries such as Sweden the increase is smaller, at less than 10%. >> Read the Full Article