• Meet your Meat

    Six weeks ago, I chopped the head off of a live chicken. Then I plucked, cleaned, and cooked it. All in the name of animal ethics. After almost a full semester in Animals and Ethics class, I said enough to antibiotic-filled poultry. I decided to take my food choices into my own hands…literally. So I attended a Meet your Meat workshop at the Duke Campus Farm in Hillsborough, NC. At the farm, I learned how to "kill, de-feather, and process a live chicken in a humane and efficient manner." >> Read the Full Article
  • How Birds Change their Tune to Deal with Urban Noise

    Birds use songs to impress mates, secure territories, and defend against predators, so any factor that can disrupt this communication, may interfere with daily life and the success of the species. One major disturbance that birds have increasingly been facing is urban noise. Previous studies have show that in order to improve communication, urban songbirds are singing differently and at higher frequencies compared to their woodland cousins in order to deal with noise pollution. However, until now, little research has been done on the more tropical relative of the songbirds, the sub-oscines. >> Read the Full Article
  • ATP Keeps it Running

    Adenosine-5'-triphosphate (ATP) is a nucleoside triphosphate used in cells as a coenzyme. It is often called the "molecular unit of currency" of intracellular energy transfer. ATP transports chemical energy within cells for metabolism. Most healthy cells rely on a complicated process to produce the fuel ATP. Knowing how ATP is produced by the cell’s energy storehouse – the mitochondria -- is important for understanding a cell’s normal state, as well as what happens when things go wrong, for example in cancer, cardiovascular disease, neurodegeneration, and many rare disorders of the mitochondria. Two years ago, Kevin Foskett, PhD, professor of Physiology at the Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania discovered that fundamental control of ATP production is an ongoing shuttle of calcium to the mitochondria from another cell compartment. They found that mitochondria rely on this transfer to make enough ATP to support normal cell metabolism. >> Read the Full Article
  • US EPA Updates Recreational Water Quality Criteria

    Yesterday, the EPA recommended new recreational water quality criteria that will help protect peoples' health during visits to beaches and other waters. The last time the EPA issued recommendations for recreational waters was in 1986 so updating these criteria are crucial in the continued protection of the public who partake in water-related activities like swimming, boating, and beach combing to name a few. The new science-based criteria provide information to help states improve public health protection by addressing a broader range of illness symptoms like stomach ailments, better accounting for pollution after heavy rainfall, providing more protective recommendations for coastal waters, encouraging early alerts to beachgoers, and promoting rapid water testing. >> Read the Full Article
  • The Uncertain Role of Extractive Reserves in Conservation

    During the 1980s, Brazilian rubber tapper Chico Mendes was a prominent activist for the preservation of the Amazon region. He urged his government to set up reserves for rubber tappers and was instrumental in creating various organizations and unions for his peers. In 1988, Mendes was murdered by a rancher intent on logging the site of a future reserve. Partly in response to the international media outcry, Brazil created the Chico Mendes Extractive Reserve, consisting of 980,000 hectares of land protected for forest-dependent indigenous inhabitants. >> Read the Full Article
  • Initiative Raises Money to Keep Oil Companies out of Ecuador

    The Yasuni-ITT Initiative has been called many things: controversial, ecological blackmail, revolutionary, pioneering, and the best chance to keep oil companies out of Ecuador's Yasuni National Park. But now, after a number of ups and downs, the program is beginning to make good: the Yasuni-ITT Initiative has raised $300 million, according to the Guardian, or 8 percent of the total amount needed to fully fund the idea. The program, which is the first of its kind, proposes to leave an estimated 850 million barrels of oil untouched in Yasuni National Park if donors worldwide compensate Ecuador for about half of the worth of the oil: $3.6 billion. The money would keep oil companies out of 200,000 hectares known as the Ishpingo-Tambococha-Tiputinin (ITT) blocs. >> Read the Full Article
  • New Development for Phytoremediation: Harvesting Collected Contaminants

    A team of researchers led by the University of Warwick are about to embark on a research program called "Cleaning Land for Wealth" (CL4W), that will use a common class of flower to restore poisoned soils while at the same time produce platinum and arsenic nanoparticles that can be used in a range of applications. A "Sandpit" exercise organized by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council allowed researchers from the Warwick Manufacturing group (WMG) at five universities to share technologies and skills to come up with an innovative multidisciplinary research project that could "help solve major technological and environmental challenges." >> Read the Full Article
  • Forests worldwide near tipping-point from drought

    Forests worldwide are at "equally high risk" to die-off from drought conditions, warns a new study published this week in the journal Nature. The study, conducted by an international team of scientists, assessed the specific physiological effects of drought on 226 tree species at 81 sites in different biomes around the world. It found that 70 percent of the species sampled are particularly vulnerable to reduction in water availability. With drought conditions increasing around the globe due to climate change and deforestation, the research suggests large swathes of the world's forests — and the services they afford — may be approaching a tipping point. >> Read the Full Article
  • Climate Change Complexities in the Northern Hardwood Forests

    For residents of the northeastern United States, the abundant woodlands of the northern Appalachians provide an excellent getaway from the congested coasts. These woods are composed typically of hardwood trees like Oak, Ash, Maple, and Birch, changing to evergreen varieties at the higher elevations. Climatologists predict that the northeast will experience warmer and wetter conditions as the climate continues to alter. However, until now, there has been no exhaustive study conducted to see how the climate change will affect the biosphere of the northern hardwoods. A recent study found that this region will be susceptible to major disruptions to forest health, its maple syrup industry, the spread of wildlife diseases and tree pests, as well as changing timber resources. >> Read the Full Article
  • Not Your Pilgrim's Turkey

    As we get ready for a great traditional Thanksgiving feast, I often wonder if this meal is really what the pilgrims and Native Americans would have eaten. Most likely our traditions have nothing to do with what really went down. We cannot even be sure that the first Thanksgiving had a turkey, and even if they did, according to a new study, this main dish would be genetically different than the bird present at the first Thanksgiving. >> Read the Full Article