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Connecting Elevation and Evolution

About 34 million years ago, global temperatures took a dive, causing a sudden wave of extinctions among European mammals. In North America, however, life went on largely unscathed. A new study explains why: The rise of the Rocky Mountains had forced North American mammals to adapt to a colder, drier world.

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Birds imitate alarm calls of others to warn of hawks

New research has found that the 6 gram brown thornbill mimics the hawk alarm calls of neighbouring species to scare a nest predator by convincing it that a much bigger and scarier predator - the brown goshawk - is on its way.

Currawongs, which raid the nests and hunt the chicks of thornbills, are also prey to goshawks. Although currawongs normally benefit from listening in on hawk alarm calls of other species, thornbills exploit this and turn it against them.

As well as issuing their own hawk alarm call, thornbills mimic those of the local species to create the impression of an impending hawk attack, which in turn distracts the pied currawong - a predator 40 times larger than the thornbill - providing thornbill nestlings with an opportunity to escape.

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Study relates influx of North American icebergs in Atlantic Ocean to increased methane production in tropical wetlands

A new study shows how huge influxes of fresh water into the North Atlantic Ocean from icebergs calving off North America during the last ice age had an unexpected effect – they increased the production of methane in the tropical wetlands. Usually increases in methane levels are linked to warming in the Northern Hemisphere, but scientists who are publishing their findings this week in the journal Science have identified rapid increases in methane during particularly cold intervals during the last ice age. These findings are important, researchers say, because they identify a critical piece of evidence for how the Earth responds to changes in climate.

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Fusion energy breakthrough

Researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy's Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) have for the first time simulated the formation of structures called "plasmoids" during Coaxial Helicity Injection (CHI), a process that could simplify the design of fusion facilities known as tokamaks. The findings, reported in the journal Physical Review Letters, involve the formation of plasmoids in the hot, charged plasma gas that fuels fusion reactions. These round structures carry current that could eliminate the need for solenoids - large magnetic coils that wind down the center of today's tokamaks - to initiate the plasma and complete the magnetic field that confines the hot gas.

"Understanding this behavior will help us produce plasmas that undergo fusion reactions indefinitely," said Fatima Ebrahimi, a physicist at both Princeton University and PPPL, and the paper's lead author. 

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Critically Endangered Ocean Giant is Reproducing Without Sex in the Wild

Are males truly essential for reproduction? Female birds, reptiles and sharks living in captivity have sometimes surprised their keepers by giving birth even though, as far as anyone can remember, they have never been housed with a male. Scientists used DNA analysis to solve this mystery some time ago, showing that these offspring were produced by asexual reproduction, a process called parthenogenesis, or “virgin birth.” Although these events have captured tremendous public interest, it was unknown if this ever occurred in wild populations of these animals.

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New research explains why is it difficult to treat Lyme disease

Northeastern University researchers have found that the bacterium that causes Lyme disease forms dormant persister cells, which are known to evade antibiotics. This significant finding, they said, could help explain why it’s so difficult to treat the infection in some patients.

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Advance in microscopy enables new understanding of proteins

One of the more famous images in biology is known as "Photo 51," an image of DNA that chemist Rosalind Franklin and Raymond Gosling created in 1952 by shooting X-rays through fibers of DNA and analyzing the patterns they left behind on film.

X-ray diffraction image of the double helix structure of the DNA molecule, taken in 1952. The image, famously known as "Photo 51," led to greater understanding of DNA and gave rise to the field of molecular biology. Image by Raymond Gosling/King's College London

 

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Good news for Amur Tigers

The population of the Amur tiger in Russia has increased to as many as 540 individuals over the last ten years, according to figures released by the Russian government.
 
“I am pleased to see that the number of Amur tigers in Russia has increased in all the key areas where WWF has been working for many years,” said Igor Chestin, Head of WWF-Russia. “This success is due to the commitment of Russia’s political leadership and the tireless dedication of rangers and conservationists in very difficult conditions.”

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Tips for Landlords to go green

As a landlord, you have a lot on your plate. Your job’s all about making the tenant happy, even if that means watching money go down the drain. But what if it were possible to keep the tenant happy while saving money? This can be accomplished by going green.

Finding ways to integrate eco-friendly features into your rental units will save you money, help the environment, and attract high-end tenants. Conserving the environment is currently a popular trend, and the best of tenants are both socially and financially responsible. In order to attract better tenants and reduce your carbon footprint, use these tips for making your rental property more environmentally accountable.  

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EPA Approves New Clean Water Protections

Drinking unclean water seems like a problem you’d hear about it in the developing world, not the United States. Believe it or not, though, one-third of Americans receive water that is unregulated by the Clean Water Act. That’s a lot of people who are potentially drinking tainted water. Fortunately, all that is about to change with the EPA’s new Waters of the United States rule, which was announced on Wednesday. Altogether, the EPA now has the authority to safeguard 20 million acres of wetlands and two million miles of streams (that accounts for 60 percent of America’s streams) that were previously discounted by the Clean Water Act.

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