• 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
  • 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
  • Estrogenic Plants May Affect Behavior Changes in Primates

    While meat can contain both natural and artificial hormones, which are often added to produce faster-growing and more productive animals, researchers are now studying how plant-based foods can affect hormone levels. Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, are examining how certain plant-based foods that are high in estrogenic compounds can influence the behaviors of various primates and how that may have contributed to the evolution of the organisms. The research is the first to observe the connection between plant-based phytoestrogens, and behavior in a group of wild red colobus monkeys. >> Read the Full Article
  • Great apes suffer mid-life crisis too

    Homo sapiens are not alone in experiencing a dip in happiness during middle age (often referred to as a mid-life crisis) since great apes suffer the same according to new research in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). A new study of over 500 great apes (336 chimpanzees and 172 orangutans) found that well-being patterns in primates are similar to those experience by humans. This doesn't mean that middle age apes seek out the sportiest trees or hit-on younger apes inappropriately, but rather that their well-being starts high in youth, dips in middle age, and rises again in old age. >> Read the Full Article
  • Owl wings may inspire new design for quieting aircrafts

    Airlines and airports could soon be relying on nature for a unique way to reduce noise pollution after researchers found owl feathers are designed to minimize sound while in flight. Owls have long been known to have the uncanny ability to fly silently, relying on specialized plumage to reduce noise so they can hunt in acoustic stealth. Now researchers from the University of Cambridge, England, are studying the owl's wing structure to better understand how it mitigates noise so they can apply that information to the design of conventional aircraft. >> Read the Full Article
  • Ozark Hellbender

    The Ozarks are a physiographic and geologic highland region of the central United States. It covers much of the southern half of Missouri and an extensive portion of northwestern and north central Arkansas. The region also extends westward into northeastern Oklahoma and extreme southeastern Kansas. The hellbender, North America’s largest amphibian, was named one of the 10 U.S. species most threatened by freshwater pollution in a report released today by the Endangered Species Coalition. The report, Water Woes: How Dams, Diversions, Dirty Water and Drought Put America’s Wildlife at Risk, highlights how reductions in water quality and quantity threaten imperiled species in 10 important ecosystems across the country. The Ozark hellbender, which can grow longer than two feet, is found in streams in northern Arkansas and southern Missouri. The eastern hellbender ranges from Mississippi to New York. Both have declined in recent years and remain threatened with extinction due to water pollution and dams. >> Read the Full Article
  • Can Overfished Tuna be Saved?

    We love Tuna! We love to eat Tuna! And the great Tuna are being seriously overfished. Attempts to remedy this situation have not been effective to date. Now the University of Hawaii has come up with a new approach that holds promise. A fish modelling study has found that marine zoning in the Pacific Ocean, in combination with other measures, could significantly improve numbers of heavily overfished bigeye tuna and improve local economies. Scientists working at the University of Hawai'i at Mānoa, the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC, Noumea, New Caledonia) and Collecte Localisation Satellites (CLS, Toulouse, France), have found that a network of marine zones in the Pacific Ocean could be a more effective conservation measure than simply closing relatively small areas to some types of fishing. These marine zones, where different fishing activities are allowed in different areas, may have significant and widespread benefits for bigeye tuna numbers. >> Read the Full Article
  • Great Cricket Ears

    Katydid or crickets are the common name of certain large, singing, winged insects belonging to the long-horned grasshopper family. Katydids are green or, occasionally, pink and range in size from 11/4 to 5 inches long. Katydids are nocturnal and arboreal; they sing in the evening. Scientists studying a species of South American bush cricket with some of the smallest ears known have discovered it has hearing so sophisticated that it rivals our own. The study, published in Science, is the first to identify hearing organs in an insect that are evolutionary convergent to those of mammals. Led by the scientists at the University of Bristol, they show how the bush cricket’s (Copiphora Gorgonensis) auditory system has evolved over millions of years to develop auditory mechanisms strikingly similar to those of humans, but using an entirely different machinery. >> Read the Full Article