A potentially game-changing breakthrough in artificial photosynthesis has been achieved with the development of a system that can capture carbon dioxide emissions before they are vented into the atmosphere and then, powered by solar energy, convert that carbon dioxide into valuable chemical products, including biodegradable plastics, pharmaceutical drugs and even liquid fuels.... Read more »
Liu, C., Gallagher, J., Sakimoto, K., Nichols, E., Chang, C., Chang, M., & Yang, P. (2015) Nanowire–Bacteria Hybrids for Unassisted Solar Carbon Dioxide Fixation to Value-Added Chemicals. Nano Letters, 2147483647. DOI: 10.1021/acs.nanolett.5b01254
Coal jobs have decreased dramatically in the past seven years, but are renewable energy and natural gas jobs compensating? New policy work reveals the geographical patterns in job changes that do not bode well for coal-producing states.... Read more »
Haerer, D., & Pratson, L. (2015) Employment trends in the U.S. Electricity Sector, 2008–2012. Energy Policy, 85-98. DOI: 10.1016/j.enpol.2015.03.006
Run-ins are on the rise between coyotes and city-dwelling humans, and scientists aren't sure why. Now researchers in Alberta think they've found a piece of the puzzle. Coyotes are more likely to creep into human spaces if they're unhealthy.
Conflict between humans and coyotes has increased during the last 20 years, write University of Alberta graduate student Maureen Murray and her coauthors. Yet coyotes were expanding their range for decades before that. They've spread to inhabit nearly ... Read more »
Murray, M., Edwards, M., Abercrombie, B., & St. Clair, C. (2015) Poor health is associated with use of anthropogenic resources in an urban carnivore. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 282(1806), 20150009-20150009. DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2015.0009
Little research to date has looked into the organic chemicals from fracking fluid that get into surrounding groundwater - here's how science can help!... Read more »
Ferrer, I., & Thurman, E. (2015) Chemical constituents and analytical approaches for hydraulic fracturing waters. Trends in Environmental Analytical Chemistry, 18-25. DOI: 10.1016/j.teac.2015.01.003
Darwin missed the boat on plants. He recognized sexual dimorphism and sexual selection in animals, but didn’t see the same thing in flowers. Boy plants can look, grow, smell or locate very different from female plants. And it matters – some beetles seek out boy plants for their smell and deliver pollen to girl plants as a bribe for letting them lay eggs there! They have learned to tell guy from gal.
... Read more »
Davis, S., Dudle, D., Nawrocki, J., Freestone, L., Konieczny, P., Tobin, M., & Britton, M. (2014) Sexual Dimorphism of Staminate- and Pistillate-Phase Flowers of Saponaria officinalis (Bouncing Bet) Affects Pollinator Behavior and Seed Set. PLoS ONE, 9(4). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0093615
HEMBORG,., & BOND, W. (2005) Different rewards in female and male flowers can explain the evolution of sexual dimorphism in plants. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 85(1), 97-109. DOI: 10.1111/j.1095-8312.2005.00477.x
Bonduriansky, R., Maklakov, A., Zajitschek, F., & Brooks, R. (2008) Sexual selection, sexual conflict and the evolution of ageing and life span. Functional Ecology, 22(3), 443-453. DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2435.2008.01417.x
Pickup, M., & Barrett, S. (2011) Reversal of height dimorphism promotes pollen and seed dispersal in a wind-pollinated dioecious plant. Biology Letters, 8(2), 245-248. DOI: 10.1098/rsbl.2011.0950
Okamoto, T., Kawakita, A., Goto, R., Svensson, G., & Kato, M. (2013) Active pollination favours sexual dimorphism in floral scent. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 280(1772), 20132280-20132280. DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2013.2280
Mathematical model can help conservationists choose.... Read more »
Possingham, H., Bode, M., & Klein, C. (2015) Optimal Conservation Outcomes Require Both Restoration and Protection. PLOS Biology, 13(1). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pbio.1002052
You see a spotted hyena – is it a male or female. There’s no way of telling without a blood test or a litter of pups. Other animals have obvious differences between males and females; eclectus parrots have green males but red and blue females, while male elephant seals weigh 10x as much as females. Are the differences for sexual selection or natural selection?... Read more »
Dunn, P., Armenta, J., & Whittingham, L. (2015) Natural and sexual selection act on different axes of variation in avian plumage color. Science Advances, 1(2). DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1400155
Neumann, D., & Kureck, A. (2013) Composite structure of silken threads and a proteinaceous hydrogel which form the diving bell wall of the water spider Agyroneta aquatica. SpringerPlus, 2(1), 223. DOI: 10.1186/2193-1801-2-223
Cunha, G., Risbridger, G., Wang, H., Place, N., Grumbach, M., Cunha, T., Weldele, M., Conley, A., Barcellos, D., Agarwal, S.... (2014) Development of the external genitalia: Perspectives from the spotted hyena (Crocuta crocuta). Differentiation, 87(1-2), 4-22. DOI: 10.1016/j.diff.2013.12.003
Hammond, G., Miguel-Queralt, S., Yalcinkaya, T., Underhill, C., Place, N., Glickman, S., Drea, C., Wagner, A., & Siiteri, P. (2012) Phylogenetic Comparisons Implicate Sex Hormone-Binding Globulin in “Masculinization” of the Female Spotted Hyena . Endocrinology, 153(3), 1435-1443. DOI: 10.1210/en.2011-1837
Krüger, O. (2005) The Evolution of Reversed Sexual Size Dimorphism in Hawks, Falcons and Owls: A Comparative Study. Evolutionary Ecology, 19(5), 467-486. DOI: 10.1007/s10682-005-0293-9
Does global warming affect all species equally? Probably not says new modeling research predicting how habitats will evolve in Alaska over the next century.... Read more »
Marcot, B., Jorgenson, M., Lawler, J., Handel, C., & DeGange, A. (2015) Projected changes in wildlife habitats in Arctic natural areas of northwest Alaska. Climatic Change. DOI: 10.1007/s10584-015-1354-x
Kelsey Neam was strolling through the trees in Costa Rica and looking for sloths when she spotted something unusual. High on a tree branch, a three-toed sloth was eating leaves at an unhurried pace. It seemed oblivious to three brown jays that perched nearby and were watching it intently. Then one jay scooted closer and plunged its beak into the sloth's fur.
Neam is a graduate student in ecology at Texas A&M University. She was in the Costa Rican cloud forests to study three-toed slot... Read more »
Neam, K. (2015) The odd couple: interactions between a sloth and a brown jay. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, 13(3), 170-171. DOI: 10.1890/1540-9295-13.3.170
Megawatt solar plants are popping up in the Mojave Desert - but what are their environmental and cultural consequences?... Read more »
Hinderle, D., Lewison, R., Walde, A., Deutschman, D., & Boarman, W. (2015) The effects of homing and movement behaviors on translocation: Desert tortoises in the western Mojave Desert. The Journal of Wildlife Management, 79(1), 137-147. DOI: 10.1002/jwmg.823
Do birds have teeth? No, but they did once, and sometimes a throwback mutation can create a chick with a full set of chompers. That’s weird, but bird mouths get weirder. Birds can open their upper jaw, not just their lower. And some birds take being weird even farther. The crossbill has a mouth where the upper and lower beaks scissor past one another while the wrybill has a beak that always turns right. ... Read more »
Meredith, R., Zhang, G., Gilbert, M., Jarvis, E., & Springer, M. (2014) Evidence for a single loss of mineralized teeth in the common avian ancestor. Science, 346(6215), 1254390-1254390. DOI: 10.1126/science.1254390
Smith, J., Sjoberg, S., Mueller, M., & Benkman, C. (2012) Assortative flocking in crossbills and implications for ecological speciation. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 279(1745), 4223-4229. DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2012.1500
Benkman, C., Parchman, T., & Mezquida, E. (2010) Patterns of coevolution in the adaptive radiation of crossbills. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1206(1), 1-16. DOI: 10.1111/j.1749-6632.2010.05702.x
SNOWBERG, L., & BENKMAN, C. (2009) Mate choice based on a key ecological performance trait. Journal of Evolutionary Biology, 22(4), 762-769. DOI: 10.1111/j.1420-9101.2009.01699.x
Think real estate decisions are hard for humans? Imagine if the house you lived in were also your singles bar, your babies' nursery, and your shelter from large animals trying to eat you. And, while you were growing up, your food source, as you nibbled away its floors and shingles.
Moths face all these pressures each time they settle down on a plant. That may be why at least one type of moth uses pleasant associations to help with its choices. The plant species where an individual loses........ Read more »
Proffit, M., Khallaf, M., Carrasco, D., Larsson, M., & Anderson, P. (2015) ‘Do you remember the first time?’ Host plant preference in a moth is modulated by experiences during larval feeding and adult mating. Ecology Letters, 18(4), 365-374. DOI: 10.1111/ele.12419
This boy may be influencing who he will marry when he grows up. Photo by Orrling at Wikimedia Commons.Animals (including humans) are swarming with microorganisms both on and in our bodies. Humans harbor so many different microorganisms that we have over 150 times more microbial genes than mammalian genes, and it is reasonable to suspect that this scenario is similar for most animals. But before you run to soak in a tub of hand sanitizer, you should realize that many of these microorganisms are a........ Read more »
Cryan, J., & Dinan, T. (2015) More than a Gut Feeling: the Microbiota Regulates Neurodevelopment and Behavior. Neuropsychopharmacology, 40(1), 241-242. DOI: 10.1038/npp.2014.224
When the government first changed policy to require ethanol in gasoline, we were told it would reduce our carbon footprint. Then food prices rose significantly and corn in particular saw the largest price rise. This was because corn is a staple in production of almost any other food from eggs to beef, but the policy made environmental sense. Well it made sense, until you found out that the new government policy also took into account people eating less.... Read more »
Searchinger, T., Edwards, R., Mulligan, D., Heimlich, R., & Plevin, R. (2015) Do biofuel policies seek to cut emissions by cutting food?. Science, 347(6229), 1420-1422. DOI: 10.1126/science.1261221
New satellite measurements have given unprecedented spatial and temporal resolution to Antarctice melting. The data indicates the Western shelf is melting faster than thought and the Eastern shelf is no longer gaining thickness. Important information to predict future sea level rises!... Read more »
Paolo, F., Fricker, H., & Padman, L. (2015) Volume loss from Antarctic ice shelves is accelerating. Science. DOI: 10.1126/science.aaa0940
Furans are coffee’s dirty little secret. Although we can thank them for the pleasant aroma and delicious flavour of freshly brewed coffee, furans have been labelled as a possible human carcinogen (cause of cancer) in disguise by food safety agencies. How many are in there
depends on how you like your cup of Joe.... Read more »
Altaki, M., Santos, F., & Galceran, M. (2011) Occurrence of furan in coffee from Spanish market: Contribution of brewing and roasting. Food Chemistry, 126(4), 1527-1532. DOI: 10.1016/j.foodchem.2010.11.134
Pavesi Arisseto, A., Vicente, E., Soares Ueno, M., Verdiani Tfouni, S., & De Figueiredo Toledo, M. (2011) Furan Levels in Coffee As Influenced by Species, Roast Degree, and Brewing Procedures. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 59(7), 3118-3124. DOI: 10.1021/jf104868g
Guenther, H., Hoenicke, K., Biesterveld, S., Gerhard-Rieben, E., & Lantz, I. (2010) Furan in coffee: pilot studies on formation during roasting and losses during production steps and consumer handling. Food Additives , 27(3), 283-290. DOI: 10.1080/19440040903317505
Evolution has given the sperm whale the most amazing head in the animal kingdom. They’ve got the biggest brain – all 18 lb.s of it. It has 1900 liters of sperm oil that almost caused in the extinction of the animal. It has one nostril that’s offset on its head, making the whale asymmetric. But most impressively, he can change the density of his head to help him dive or surface, and to do it he uses the same organ he uses for echolocation!... Read more »
Ridgway, S., & Hanson, A. (2014) Sperm Whales and Killer Whales with the Largest Brains of All Toothed Whales Show Extreme Differences in Cerebellum. Brain, Behavior and Evolution, 83(4), 266-274. DOI: 10.1159/000360519
Oliveira, C., Wahlberg, M., Johnson, M., Miller, P., & Madsen, P. (2013) The function of male sperm whale slow clicks in a high latitude habitat: Communication, echolocation, or prey debilitation?. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 133(5), 3135. DOI: 10.1121/1.4795798
BODDY, A., McGOWEN, M., SHERWOOD, C., GROSSMAN, L., GOODMAN, M., & WILDMAN, D. (2012) Comparative analysis of encephalization in mammals reveals relaxed constraints on anthropoid primate and cetacean brain scaling. Journal of Evolutionary Biology, 25(5), 981-994. DOI: 10.1111/j.1420-9101.2012.02491.x
Montgomery, S., Geisler, J., McGowen, M., Fox, C., Marino, L., & Gatesy, J. (2013) THE EVOLUTIONARY HISTORY OF CETACEAN BRAIN AND BODY SIZE. Evolution, 67(11), 3339-3353. DOI: 10.1111/evo.12197
After decades of debate there remains no generally accepted definition of a “natural” food product. Despite a gamut of products with the label prominently displayed, it has caused a headache in lawsuits for the government who have yet to define “natural”. According to new research, while regulatory agencies have refused to settle the issue, they may be under new pressure from those consumer lawsuits.... Read more »
Petty, R. (2014) “Natural” Claims in Food Advertising: Policy Implications of Filling the Regulatory Void with Consumer Class Action Lawsuits. Journal of Public Policy , 2147483647. DOI: 10.1509/jppm.14.147
Like those breakfast cereals that look healthy on the box but have even more sugar inside than Cocoa Puffs, some rainforest trees engage in false advertising. It's not their fault—it's ours. Climate change has made their leaves less nutritious than they used to be. And the animals who live off of those trees don't exactly have another store to shop at.
Experiments in labs and greenhouses have given scientists mixed answers about what happens to plant tissues in a changing climate. So pr........ Read more »
Rothman, J., Chapman, C., Struhsaker, T., Raubenheimer, D., Twinomugisha, D., & Waterman, P. (2015) Long-term declines in nutritional quality of tropical leaves. Ecology, 96(3), 873-878. DOI: 10.1890/14-0391.1
By Shelly Sonsalla Komodo Dragon. Image by Arturo de Frias Marques on Wikimedia. Komodo dragons are the world’s largest living lizard and can be found only on select islands in the Indonesian archipelago. These massive lizards can grow to be 10 feet in length and up to 150 pounds! Their natural prey includes wild boars, deer, and water buffalo—animals which may outweigh them by several hundred pounds. So how does a lizard, even such a large one, manage to take down prey so much larger tha........ Read more »
Christiansen P, & Wroe S. (2007) Bite forces and evolutionary adaptations to feeding ecology in carnivores. Ecology, 88(2), 347-58. PMID: 17479753
Fry, B., Wroe, S., Teeuwisse, W., van Osch, M., Moreno, K., Ingle, J., McHenry, C., Ferrara, T., Clausen, P., Scheib, H.... (2009) A central role for venom in predation by Varanus komodoensis (Komodo Dragon) and the extinct giant Varanus (Megalania) priscus. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 106(22), 8969-8974. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0810883106
Merchant, M., Henry, D., Falconi, R., Muscher, B., & Bryja, J. (2013) Antibacterial activities of serum from the Komodo Dragon (Varanus komodoensis). Microbiology Research, 4(1), 4. DOI: 10.4081/mr.2013.e4
Montgomery JM, Gillespie D, Sastrawan P, Fredeking TM, & Stewart GL. (2002) Aerobic salivary bacteria in wild and captive Komodo dragons. Journal of wildlife diseases, 38(3), 545-51. PMID: 12238371
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