• For grassland bird conservation, it’s not the size that matters

    University of Manitoba researchers have published new findings that can help us save grassland birds, whose populations have declined more severely than species of any other Canadian ecosystem.

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  • Marine Mammals Lack Functional Gene to Defend Against Popular Pesticide

    As marine mammals evolved to make water their primary habitat, they lost the ability to make a protein that defends humans and other land-dwelling mammals from the neurotoxic effects of a popular man-made pesticide, according to new research from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.

    The implications of this discovery, announced today in Science, led researchers to call for monitoring our waterways to learn more about the impact of pesticides and agricultural run-off on marine mammals, such as dolphins, manatees, seals and whales. The research also may shed further light on the function of the gene encoding this protein in humans.

    “We need to determine if marine mammals are, indeed, at an elevated risk of serious neurological damage from these pesticides because they biologically lack the ability to break them down, or if they’ve somehow adapted to avoid such damage in an as-yet undiscovered way,” said senior author Nathan L. Clark, Ph.D., associate professor in Pitt’s Department of Computational and Systems Biology, and the Pittsburgh Center for Evolutionary Biology and Medicine. “Either way, this is the kind of serendipitous finding that results from curiosity-driven scientific research. It is helping us to understand what our genes are doing and the impact the environment can have on them.”

    Continue reading at UPMC

    Image via R. Bonde, USGS

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  • Why House Sparrows Lay Both Big and Small Eggs

    Why does the egg size of house sparrows vary so much? Isn’t it always an advantage to be big?

    Perhaps not surprisingly, baby sparrows that hatch from large eggs are consistently bigger their small egg counterparts. They can store up more reserves if food becomes scarce. So you would think that it’s always a good idea to lay big eggs because your offspring would seem to have a greater chance of survival.

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  • Sea stars critical to kelp forest resilience

    A study by Simon Fraser University resource and environmental management researcher Jenn Burt reveals that sunflower sea stars play a critical role in the resilience of B.C.'s kelp forests, which are among the most productive ecosystems on Earth.

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  • Good News for Fishermen: “Browning” Impacts Fish Less Than Expected

    If you fill a clear glass with lake water, chances are that the water has a slight yellow or brown color. The color is caused by dissolved organic carbon – a group of carbon compounds that wash into a lake from the soils around it when it rains or when snow melts. Dissolved organic carbon concentrations are increasing in lakes around the planet, in part because of climate change, but also due to other factors like reductions in acid rain. This causes the lake water to transition from relatively clear to a darker brown color.

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  • Researchers Solved Mystery of Clownfish Colouration

    The anemonefish is more familiarly known as the clownfish, as its bright colouration reminds of the face painting of a clown. The fish is familiar to the public at least on account of the animated film Finding Nemo with a clownfish as the main character. The striking and unique colouration consists of white stripes on an orange background, but its biological function has remained a mystery thus far. Now, a study by the researchers of the University of Turku and the University of Western Australia has revealed new information on the colouration of the clownfish. The study will be published in the Journal of Evolutionary Biology.

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  • Researchers discover three new species of poisonous Colombian frogs

    University of Saskatchewan researchers José Andrés and Andrés Posso-Terranova have discovered three new species of poisonous dart frogs — tiny and incredibly colourful animals that live deep in the Colombian jungle and appear to be already at risk of extinction.

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  • Neuroscientists uncover secret to intelligence in parrots

    University of Alberta neuroscientists have identified what may underlie intelligence in parrots, and potentially provide more insight into the neural basis of human intelligence.

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  • Equine-assisted therapy helps people in palliative care

    It’s not usual to see a horse in the parking lot of the PEI Provincial Palliative Care Centre—except when Billy, the Norwegian Fjord horse, comes to visit.

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  • Scientists Discover Neurodegenerative Disease in Monkeys

    OHSU scientists have discovered a naturally occurring disease in monkeys that mimics a deadly childhood neurodegenerative disorder in people – a finding that holds promise for developing new gene therapies to treat Batten disease.

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