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Ecology / Conservation posts

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  • July 28, 2015
  • 12:05 PM
  • 45 views

Sports Stadiums Make Bats into Winners and Losers

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish



Bats are indifferent to whether we're playing soccer, baseball, or beach volleyball under our stadium lights. They only care about the game of catch they're playing with all the bugs attracted to the glow. As bats stuff themselves on swarms of sports-adjacent insects, though, our stadiums may be aiding certain bat species and wiping others out.

Any bat that's willing to visit a lit-up sports stadium will find a bug bonanza there, says Corrie Schoeman, an ecologist at the University of........ Read more »

  • July 27, 2015
  • 02:49 PM
  • 76 views

Some vaccines support evolution of more-virulent viruses

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Scientific experiments with the herpes virus such as the one that causes Marek’s disease in poultry have confirmed, for the first time, the highly controversial theory that some vaccines could allow more-virulent versions of a virus to survive, putting unvaccinated individuals at greater risk of severe illness. The research has important implications for food-chain security and food-chain economics, as well as for other diseases that affect humans and agricultural animals.... Read more »

Andrew F. Read, Susan J. Baigent, Claire Powers, Lydia B. Kgosana, Luke Blackwell, Lorraine P. Smith, David A. Kennedy, Stephen W. Walkden-Brown, & Venugopal K. Nair. (2015) Imperfect Vaccination Can Enhance the Transmission of Highly Virulent Pathogens. PLOS Biology. info:/10.1371/journal.pbio.1002198

  • July 21, 2015
  • 12:17 PM
  • 71 views

Plants Murder Bugs to Pay Their Bodyguards

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish



It's not only carnivorous plants that bugs have to watch out for. Sure, if an ant tumbles into a pitcher plant or a spider stands in the open maw of a Venus flytrap, we know what's coming next. But certain innocent-looking plants—perhaps very many of them, even including ones in your own yard—murder hosts of insects that they have no plans to eat. They lure passing bugs into a slow death, then exchange their corpses with other insects for protection.

One of these plants is the serp........ Read more »

  • July 18, 2015
  • 12:43 PM
  • 112 views

Study finds metal foams capable of shielding X-rays, gamma rays, neutron radiation

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Research from North Carolina State University shows that lightweight composite metal foams are effective at blocking X-rays, gamma rays and neutron radiation, and are capable of absorbing the energy of high impact collisions. The finding means the metal foams hold promise for use in nuclear safety, space exploration and medical technology applications.... Read more »

  • July 16, 2015
  • 06:24 PM
  • 104 views

Hydraulic fracturing and hospitalization: a tentative link

by Jonathan Trinastic in Goodnight Earth

There is little hard data bout how fracking affects health outcomes, but a new study provides a first glimpse at a correlation between increased well-drilling and inpatient rates. Read more here!... Read more »

Jemielita, T., Gerton, G., Neidell, M., Chillrud, S., Yan, B., Stute, M., Howarth, M., Saberi, P., Fausti, N., Penning, T.... (2015) Unconventional Gas and Oil Drilling Is Associated with Increased Hospital Utilization Rates. PLOS ONE, 10(7). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0131093  

  • July 15, 2015
  • 05:42 PM
  • 86 views

New solar energy storage works at night

by Jonathan Trinastic in Goodnight Earth

It is still an open research problem to store energy generated from solar cells, but a new, all-vanadium electrochemical cell made at UT Arlington may be a solution.... Read more »

  • July 15, 2015
  • 03:03 PM
  • 33 views

Journal Club: Starlings on Prozac: How pharmaceuticals may affect wildlife

by GrrlScientist in Maniraptora

SUMMARY: Recent research suggests that the commonly prescribed psychiatric drug, Prozac, occurs at environmentally relevant concentrations that can significantly alter behaviour and physiology in wild birds .. Read more... Read more »

Bean, T., Boxall, A., Lane, J., Herborn, K., Pietravalle, S., & Arnold, K. (2014) Behavioural and physiological responses of birds to environmentally relevant concentrations of an antidepressant. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 369(1656), 20130575-20130575. DOI: 10.1098/rstb.2013.0575  

Crockett, M., Siegel, J., Kurth-Nelson, Z., Ousdal, O., Story, G., Frieband, C., Grosse-Rueskamp, J., Dayan, P., & Dolan, R. (2015) Dissociable Effects of Serotonin and Dopamine on the Valuation of Harm in Moral Decision Making. Current Biology, 25(14), 1852-1859. DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2015.05.021  

Markman, S., Müller, C., Pascoe, D., Dawson, A., & Buchanan, K. (2011) Pollutants affect development in nestling starlings Sturnus vulgaris. Journal of Applied Ecology, 48(2), 391-397. DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2664.2010.01931.x  

  • July 15, 2015
  • 02:16 PM
  • 102 views

Vaginal douches may expose women to harmful phthalate chemicals

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Women who use feminine care products called douches may increase their exposure to harmful chemicals called phthalates–and black women may be at particularly high risk due to frequent use. Public health officials advise against the use of douching products, which can hide vaginal infections and lead to other serious health problems. Despite that, douching products are still a popular item on the drug store shelf, and are disproportionately used by black women.... Read more »

Francesca Branch et al. (2015) Vaginal douching and racial/ethnic disparities in phthalate exposures among reproductive-aged women: National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2001-2004. Environmental Health. info:/10.1186/s12940-015-0043-6

  • July 12, 2015
  • 11:38 PM
  • 96 views

The Hidden Microbial World On Your Cash And What It Means For Your Health

by Geoffrey Hannigan in Prophage

We have all thought and talked about how dirty money is. Those notes are transferred all over the world, touched by thousands of people, and find themselves in every sort of hygienic situation. But how dirty is money really? What kinds of microbes (bacteria, viruses, etc) are sitting on your cash, and can they make you sick? To provide us with some insight ...... Read more »

  • July 8, 2015
  • 11:35 AM
  • 120 views

Colour changing fruits and veggies

by Rosin Cerate in Rosin Cerate

The fleshy parts of plants we eat tend to change colour. This can be due to ripening (e.g. various berries turning red as they mature), intentional injury (e.g. apple slices turning brown after being cut), or changing external pH (e.g. red cabbage turning pink in vinegar). Let's look a bit at how and why this happens using a couple of examples.Strawberry fruit develops through green, white, and red stages. These correspond to changing levels of chlorophyll, anthocyanins, flavonoids, tannins, and........ Read more »

  • July 7, 2015
  • 12:47 PM
  • 110 views

I Caught a Fish With a Snake Inside, is it Safe to Eat? Turning Citizen Science into Publications.

by David Steen in Living Alongside Wildlife

While filleting a bass I found a dead snake inside, when the fish was caught it was a healthy fighting fish. My question is: Is it safe to eat the fish? Thanks,

Ron



    You better believe that this e-mail caught my attention. It reminded me of this letter about whether it was safe to eat a fish that had been bitten by a Cottonmouth. In that case, I probably would not eat the fish. But, I did... Read more »

R. Arbaugh, T. Arbaugh., & D. A. Steen. (2015) Nerodia fasciata (Southern Watersnake). Predation. Herpetological Review. info:/

  • July 7, 2015
  • 11:31 AM
  • 106 views

Weirdo Deep-Sea Anemone Kills a Giant Worm, Goes for a Walk

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish



If you already think everything at the bottom of the ocean is slightly terrifying, Iosactis vagabunda won't change your mind. It's transparent, can tunnel underground, and hunts animals 15 times its size. And scientists are now realizing that there might be way, way more of these roaming killers than they'd previously thought.

Iosactis vagabunda lives on the Porcupine Abyssal Plain, a seabed southwest of Ireland that ranges from 4,000 to nearly 5,000 meters deep. The species was alread........ Read more »

  • June 30, 2015
  • 11:14 PM
  • 143 views

Surface matters: using earth-abundant materials to split water for energy storage

by Jonathan Trinastic in Goodnight Earth

Scientists have developed a new way to grow hematite as an electrode in solar water-splitting devices to greatly improve efficiency!... Read more »

Jang, J., Du, C., Ye, Y., Lin, Y., Yao, X., Thorne, J., Liu, E., McMahon, G., Zhu, J., Javey, A.... (2015) Enabling unassisted solar water splitting by iron oxide and silicon. Nature Communications, 7447. DOI: 10.1038/ncomms8447  

  • June 29, 2015
  • 03:26 PM
  • 170 views

How your brain knows it’s summer

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Researchers led by Toru Takumi at the RIKEN Brain Science Institute in Japan have discovered a key mechanism underlying how animals keep track of the seasons. The study shows how circadian clock machinery in the brain encodes seasonal changes in daylight duration through GABA activity along with changes in the amount of chloride located inside certain neurons.... Read more »

Myung J, Hong S, DeWoskin D, Schutter E, Forger, DB, and Takumi T. (2015) GABA-mediated repulsive coupling between circadian clock neurons in the SCN encodes seasonal time. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. info:/10.1073/pnas.1421200112

  • June 27, 2015
  • 02:17 PM
  • 173 views

Natural wilderness areas need buffer zones to protect from human development

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Despite heavy development, the U.S. still has millions of acres of pristine wild lands. Coveted for their beauty, these wilderness areas draw innumerable outdoor enthusiasts eager for a taste of primitive nature. But University of Georgia researchers say these federally protected nature areas have a problem: Their boundaries have become prime real estate.... Read more »

Lauren K. Ward, & Gary T. Green. (2015) Wilderness Zoning: Applying an Adapted Biosphere Reserve Model to Wilderness Areas. Illuminare. info:/http://scholarworks.iu.edu/journals/index.php/illuminare/article/view/13341

  • June 26, 2015
  • 12:33 PM
  • 142 views

Nervous Sea Squirts Squirt Out Their Stomachs and Grow New Ones

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish



We may call someone gutless who's acting afraid. But certain coral-reef dwellers take gutless to a whole other level: they shoot their digestive tracts out of their bodies when they feel threatened. This seems to deter nearby fish from taking a bite. Even more amazing, though, is how quickly the gutless animals grow back their organs.

Polycarpa mytiligera is a little tube-shaped creature called an ascidian, or sea squirt. It resides in tropical waters of the Indian and Pacific oceans. Wit... Read more »

  • June 26, 2015
  • 12:06 PM
  • 178 views

Study finds pet owners reluctant to face up to their cats’ kill count

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Cats are increasingly earning themselves a reputation as wildlife killers with estimates of animals killed every year by domestic cats in the UK numbering into the millions. This new study on the attitudes of cat owners suggests that proposals to keep cats indoors in order to preserve wildlife would not be well received.... Read more »

  • June 26, 2015
  • 12:06 PM
  • 144 views

Oak bump medicine

by Rosin Cerate in Rosin Cerate

I own a couple of neat old medical books. One was published in 1935 and is entitled The Canadian Formulary. It's essentially a cookbook for pharmacists, particularly ones who plied their trade at the military hospital in Kingston, Ontario (there's a stamp on the inside cover). The book contains some interesting recipes, to say the least, which is what you get when your ingredient list includes arsenic, lead, mercury, strychnine, and chloroform.One recipe in particular that recently caught my eye........ Read more »

  • June 24, 2015
  • 05:51 PM
  • 127 views

The benefit of order: new organic solar cell structure improves charge separation

by Jonathan Trinastic in Goodnight Earth

Organic solar cells suffer from fast electron-hole recombination, limiting efficiency, but scientists have found a cool new structure to prevent such limitations!... Read more »

Huber, R., Ferreira, A., Thompson, R., Kilbride, D., Knutson, N., Devi, L., Toso, D., Challa, J., Zhou, Z., Rubin, Y.... (2015) Long-lived photoinduced polaron formation in conjugated polyelectrolyte-fullerene assemblies. Science, 348(6241), 1340-1343. DOI: 10.1126/science.aaa6850  

  • June 23, 2015
  • 12:43 PM
  • 185 views

The New Way to Track Animals Is Tagless

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish



There's good news for scientists who study animals that are too small to carry a GPS monitor, or that spit ID tags back out through their arms. A setup using an off-the-shelf camera can precisely capture an animal's path in three dimensions—without anyone touching the animal.

Emmanuel de Margerie, who studies animal behavior at the University of Rennes 1 in France, says there are several reasons to seek new animal-tracking technologies. To put a GPS or other kind of tag on an animal, yo........ Read more »

de Margerie E, Simonneau M, Caudal JP, Houdelier C, & Lumineau S. (2015) 3D tracking of animals in the field, using rotational stereo videography. The Journal of experimental biology. PMID: 26056245  

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