• 'Biotic Pump' Theory Suggests Forests Drive Wind and Rain

    It took over two-and-a-half-years for the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics to finally accept a paper outlining a new meteorological hypothesis in which condensation, not temperature, drives winds. If proven correct, the hypothesis could have massive ramifications on global policy—not to mention meteorology—as essentially the hypothesis means that the world's forest play a major role in driving precipitation from the coast into a continent's interior. The theory, known as the biotic pump, was first developed in 2006 by two Russian scientists, Victor Gorshkov and Anastassia Makarieva of the St. Petersburg Nuclear Physics, but the two have faced major pushback and delays in their attempt to put the theory before the greater scientific community. >> Read the Full Article
  • The Great Stink Bug

    Oregon State University is studying how to use bug-on-bug warfare to stop this crop-damaging pest. The insect arrived in the eastern United States in the late 1990s and has since spread to more than 30 states. This non-native bug was found in Portland in 2004 and has since shown up in 13 Oregon counties, including all of the Willamette Valley. The pest has caused major commercial crop damage in many eastern states but so far it has had minimal impact on Northwest crops. >> Read the Full Article
  • US Fish & Wildlife Service Considering Reintroducing Wood Bison to Alaska

    North America's largest land animal will roam the Alaskan wilderness once again if a plan unveiled last week is approved. Wood bison, a subspecies of the more familiar plains bison, once lived throughout Alaska and much of western Canada but haven't been seen in the state's wilderness for more than a century due to hunting and other factors. That may be about to change: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced a plan Jan. 17 to reintroduce the beasts, according to the Alaska Dispatch, a news website. Several groups have been trying to reintroduce wood bison for more than a decade. Some Alaskans have rejected the idea of introducing an animal listed under the Endangered Species Act for fear that this might interfere with gas and oil development, the Dispatch reported. (Habitats of endangered animals often cannot be used for certain commercial activities.) >> Read the Full Article
  • Livestock falling ill in fracking regions, raising concerns about food

    While scientists have yet to isolate cause and effect, many suspect chemicals used in drilling and hydrofracking (or "fracking") operations are poisoning animals through the air, water, or soil. Last year, Michelle Bamberger, an Ithaca, New York, veterinarian, and Robert Oswald, a professor of molecular medicine at Cornell's College of Veterinary Medicine, published the first and only peer-reviewed report to suggest a link between fracking and illness in food animals. >> Read the Full Article
  • Dung Beetle

    Dung beetle occurs in coastal dunes and marshes around the Mediterranean Basin. They are also known as scarab beetles that were sacred to the ancient Egyptians. These insects roll balls of dung across the earth just as the sun god Ra rolled across the sky. A team of scientists from South Africa and Sweden have recently published a study indicating that there was a grain of truth in this belief. They found that these beetles use celestial navigation to roll their balls of dung in a straight path. The beetles orient themselves with star clusters and the wide band of star light we know as the Milky Way. These beetles were astronomers. >> Read the Full Article
  • How Many Species Can You Name?

    Some people despair that most species will go extinct before they are discovered. However, such worries result from overestimates of how many species may exist, beliefs that the expertise to describe species is decreasing, and alarmist estimates of extinction rates. This is according to Griffith University researcher, Professor Nigel Stork. Professor Stork has taken part in an international study, the findings of which have been detailed in "Can we name Earth's species before they go extinct?" published in the journal Science. >> Read the Full Article
  • One More Hurdle for Asian Elephants: Climate Change

    Wild elephants populations in Myanmar are considered endangered and are facing decline due to a number of factors. From being captured, to being poached for ivory and meat, to losing habitat as a result of deforestation, elephants are constantly fighting for survival. And now according to new research, elephants have one more thing to be concerned about: climate change. >> Read the Full Article
  • Dogs vs. Wolves: Critical Period of Socialization Explains Behavioral Differences

    Dogs and wolves are actually from the same species: Canis lupis. Physically and genetically, these two canines are similar, but behaviorally, it has been difficult for biologists to understand why wolves remain fiercely wild, while dogs are content on being man's companion. While domestication of the dog plays a huge role in the differences between the two, according to new research, evolutionary biologist Kathryn Lord at the University of Massachusetts Amherst suggests the different behaviors are related to the animals' earliest sensory experiences and the critical period of socialization. >> Read the Full Article
  • Global Warming and the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum

    Sandy, Irene, Katrina... Hurricanes are fast becoming household names and have many people worried over the connection between extreme weather and the amount of greenhouse gases people are pumping into the atmosphere. No one can predict for sure what will happen decades or centuries from now as such gas concentrations increase. But scientists have a pretty good picture of what did happen in the past; greenhouses gases were released into the atmosphere in massive amounts at least once before—around 56 million years ago. Sixty million years ago the Earth was already at least a few degrees warmer than it is today. At that point, there was little or no ice at the poles, and alligators were probably swimming in areas where polar bears roam today. But 4 million years later (56 million years ago) the world was about to undergo major change—in an event called the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM). During the PETM, massive amounts of greenhouse gases, probably in the form of methane that later oxidized to carbon dioxide, were spewed into atmosphere. >> Read the Full Article
  • Botswana, Zambia & Costa Rica Toughen Hunting Regulations to Help Endangered Species

    Three developing countries have recently toughened hunting regulations believing the changes will better protect vanishing species. Botswana has announced it will ban trophy hunting on public lands beginning in 2014, while Zambia has recently banned any hunting of leopards or lions, both of which are disappearing across Africa. However, the most stringent ban comes from another continent: Costa Rica—often considered one of the "greenest" countries on Earth—has recently passed a law that bans all sport hunting and trapping both inside and outside protected areas. The controversial new law is considered the toughest in the Western Hemisphere. "The shooting of wild game purely for sport and trophies is no longer compatible with our commitment to preserve local fauna as a national treasure, which should be treated as such," Botswana's President, Ian Khama, said in last year's state of the nation address. >> Read the Full Article