• Dolphins, bats and the evolution of echolocation

    While both bats and dolphins use ecolocation to hunt down prey, patterns of echolocation vary greatly among species. Depending on what they eat and where they live, species produce sounds at different frequencies - from "broadband" calls that encompass a wide range of frequencies, to constant-frequency calls emitted at one particular frequency. Researchers from the UK, Italy and Denmark got together to look for genetic evidence of convergent evolution between these very different groups. Previous research had already determined which genes are involved in echolocation in both dolphin and bat species. While, other studies have shown that different bat species have undergone changes that resulted in strong similarities in the genes that govern hearing. These findings set the stage for Joe Parker, Georgia Tsagkogeorga and others to begin examining the entire genomes of selected echolocating species. >> Read the Full Article
  • Sustainable Fishing

    Restoring ocean fisheries in 24 countries could provide a meal for close to a billion people a day. New Englanders can also help ocean ecosystems recover by eating wild fish, choosing small fish, buying fish from the United States and eating mollusks, according to Andrew Sharpless, CEO of Oceana. It's best to avoid eating shrimp because they are caught in nets that bring many species up accidentally, Sharpless said. The unwanted species are known as "by catch" and are tossed back into sea, usually dead. He also said carnivorous fish such as salmon should be caught in the wild rather than farmed. >> Read the Full Article
  • Port development threatens Jamaican Iguana comeback

    The story of the Jamaican iguana (Cyclura collie) is one of adversity and resurgence. Once believed extinct, the species has made a remarkable comeback over the last two decades. However, according to concerned scientists, a new plan to build a massive port in the iguana's habitat could push the species back to the edge of extinction. >> Read the Full Article
  • Climate Linked to Atmospheric-River Storms

    It's not every day that the weatherman reports on atmospheric river storms...but we may be hearing the term more frequently now as researchers have linked climate in the Pacific Ocean and West Coast mountains to these distinctive storms. An atmospheric river is a narrow stream of wind, about a mile high and sometimes of hurricane strength. Crossing the warm tropical Pacific in a few days, it becomes laden with water vapor. A moderate-sized atmospheric river carries as much water as the Mississippi River dumps into the Gulf of Mexico in an average week! When the river comes ashore and stalls over higher terrain, the water falls as snow or rain. >> Read the Full Article
  • Eco-Fruit Farming: Reducing Pesticides while Promoting Best Farming Techniques

    In a 2005 study conducted by the Pesticide Data Program (under the US Department of Agriculture), out of 774 apples that were analyzed in the United States, 727 samples detected residues of pesticides - that's a whopping 98%! Furthermore, apples rank number 1 on the Environmental Working Group's "Dirty Dozen" list, which ranks fruits and vegetables on their levels of pesticides. Why are these colorful fruits laced with so many pesticides? In order for farmers to have a successful growing season, they often use pesticides and insecticides on their produce, which has positive effects for crop yields, but also has hazardous negative effects on the environment and potentially for consumers. The problem is two-fold: apple growers want to use the best techniques to grow their crops, and agricultural scientists want to reduce pesticide use. >> Read the Full Article
  • Exploration urged to discover new rice species

    More exploration is needed to discover new wild varieties of rice, before they are lost to science forever, heard the 7th International Rice Genetics Symposium held this week (5-8 November) in Manila, the Philippines. There are still many unexplored places and a danger of losing undiscovered rice species that "might be very important for future rice" breakthroughs, said Robert Henry, director of the research institute Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation. Henry, who was speaking at the symposium organized by the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), said a lot of biodiversity is being lost because of the rapid pace of development. This means exploration is in a race with this biodiversity loss. >> Read the Full Article
  • Relating the trees in the Amazon to west coast droughts

    In research meant to highlight how the destruction of the Amazon rainforest could affect climate elsewhere, Princeton University-led researchers report that the total deforestation of the Amazon may significantly reduce rain and snowfall in the western United States, resulting in water and food shortages, and a greater risk of forest fires. >> Read the Full Article
  • Hydrocarbon drilling impacts aquatic life

    Today, Hydrocarbons are the main source of the world’s electric energy and heat sources (such as home heating) because of the energy produced when burnt. Often this energy is used directly as heat such as in home heaters, which use either petroleum or natural gas. >> Read the Full Article
  • Global map provides new insights into land use

    In order to assess the global impacts of land use on the environment and help provide appropriate countermeasures, a group of researchers under the leadership of the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ) has created a new world map of land use systems. Based on various indicators of land-use intensity, climate, environmental and socio-economic conditions, they identified twelve global patterns called land system archetypes. The scientists from UFZ with colleagues from the Humboldt-University Berlin and University Bonn have recently published their results in the journal Global Environmental Change. >> Read the Full Article
  • Deep sea Drilling in New Zealand

    Deep sea drilling will soon commence in the rough waters off the New Zealand coast. This could mark the beginning of an oil rush in which democratic process, public concern, environmental protection and safety considerations are all swept aside. The Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) around New Zealand is fifteen times larger than the country's land area - it extends from the sub-tropical to the sub-Antarctic. Like the Arctic, New Zealand's EEZ supports a multitude of species which travel from far-flung areas of the globe to reach these rich waters. Like the Arctic, New Zealand's EEZ is fast becoming an oil exploration frontier. >> Read the Full Article