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Democratic Republic of Congo’s Last Large Forest Elephant Population in Serious Decline

The Democratic Republic of Congo's (DRC) largest remaining forest elephant population, located in the Okapi Faunal Reserve (OFR), has declined by 37 percent in the last five years, with only 1,700 elephants now remaining, according to wildlife surveys by WCS and DRC officials. WCS scientists warn that if poaching of forest elephants in DRC continues unabated, the species could be nearly extinguished from Africa's second largest country within ten years. According to the latest survey, 5,100, or 75 percent, of the reserve's elephants have been killed in the last 15 years. These numbers are particularly shocking as the OFR is considered the best protected conservation area in DRC. According to WCS, the primary reason for the recent decline in forest elephant numbers is ivory poaching. >> Read the Full Article

The Great Snail Tale

The common name snail is also applied to most of the members of the molluscan class Gastropoda that have a coiled shell that is large enough for the animal to retract completely into. When the word snail is used in this most general sense, it includes not just land snails but also thousands of species of sea snails and freshwater snails. They do not have a great reputation but the story goes that if a snail climbs a plant or post, rain is coming, research led by the University of York goes one better: it shows snails can provide a wealth of information about the prevailing weather conditions thousands of years ago. The researchers, including scientists from the Scottish Universities Environmental Research Center (SUERC), analyzed the chemistry of snail shells dating back 9,000 to 2,500 years recovered from Mediterranean caves, looking at humidity at different times in the past. >> Read the Full Article

Crab's Metabolism May be Affected by Noise Pollution

Sitting at the dock of the bay you might hear the crash of breaking waves and squawking seagulls flying overhead. As you take in all the sites and sounds, you next hear a speeding boat racing by and an oil tanker a mile away. Grinding engine noises and long, low, horn sounds can be deafening in any harbor. And while you can handle it for the hour or two you spend there, the continuous sounds of these noisy vessels are being found to have repercussions on marine life. >> Read the Full Article

Spinning Holes

How fast does a black hole spin? And how does it matter? An international team including Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory scientists has definitively measured the spin rate of a supermassive black hole for the first time. The findings, made by the two X-ray space observatories, NASA's Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) and the European Space Agency's XMM-Newton, solve a long-standing debate about similar measurements in other black holes and will lead to a better understanding of how black holes and galaxies evolve. >> Read the Full Article

Shell suspends Arctic oil drilling for the year

Royal Dutch Shell announced yesterday that it was setting "pause" on its exploratory drilling activities in the Arctic for 2013. Shell's operations are currently under review by the federal government after the oil company suffered numerous setbacks during last year's opening attempt to drill exploratory wells in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas, including running its drilling rig aground on Sitkalidak Island in southern Alaska in late December. >> Read the Full Article

Reptiles Need Our Help NOW!

Reptiles have inhabited our planet for more than 250 million years, and are adapted to almost every part of it. Yet when it comes to conservation action, reptiles all over the world have been overlooked in favour of more charismatic animals. With only 35% of described reptile species evaluated for the IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature) Red List of Threatened Species, no one knew to what extent reptiles were being affected by our current extinction crisis. >> Read the Full Article

Lake Tahoe Return

Lake Tahoe is a large freshwater lake in the Sierra Nevada of the United States. Visibility in Lake Tahoe was about 100 feet in the 1970s, but has since declined. The main culprits seem to be dirt, dust and other fine particles. Lake Tahoe’s clarity improved in 2012 for the second year in a row, and its waters were the clearest in 10 years, according to University of California, Davis, scientists who study the lake. Last year’s average annual clarity level was 75.3 feet, or a 6.4-foot improvement from 2011, according to data released today by the UC Davis Tahoe Environmental Research Center and the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency. >> Read the Full Article

eRecycling Corps: 10 Million Cell Phone Trade-Ins Since 2009

Few press releases cause me to say, "Wow." Yesterday's press release about eRecyclingCorps (eRC) achieving 10 million cell phone trade-ins since 2009 is an exception. eRC, a leader in mobile device trade-ins, began in 2009 when Ron LeMay, from Sprint, and David Edmondson, from Radioshack, launched the company. Edmondson is now the CEO and LeMay is the Chairman. eRC allows in-carrier and retail stores to offer instant-credit that a customer can apply to the purchase of a new phone. It also allows carriers to make money from their e-waste. It’s a clichéd win-win situation for both customers and carriers. What does eRC do with the devices collected by in-store operators and retail programs? They are repaired to "like new" quality and resold. That keeps them out of landfills. >> Read the Full Article

Wasp Society

Social wasps build an internal society or specialized workers. How do they do this on a genetic level? What makes a wasp do one task or another? The workers all support the queen of the colony. Scientists at the University of Bristol have sequenced the active parts of the genome – or transcriptome – of primitively eusocial wasps to identify which part makes a queen or a worker. The study, published in BioMed Central’s open access journal Genome Biology, shows that workers have a more active transcriptome than queens. This suggests that in these simple societies, workers may be the jack-of-all-trades in the colony, leaving the queen with a somewhat restricted set of work tasks. >> Read the Full Article

New Smartphone Technology Reveals US Stream and River Conditions

Oh the things your smartphone can do! For the first time, data on current conditions on thousands of rivers and streams across the country, can be accessed from your smartphone, using USGS' latest system WaterNow. WaterNow makes the water conditions monitored by more than 16,000 stream gages and other sites across the country available via text or email. Stream gages refer to sites along a stream where information for streamflow, groundwater levels, springs, water quality, and lake levels are measured. They are used by hydrologists and scientists for monitoring purposes, although this data can be accessible to anyone who is interested. >> Read the Full Article