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Ecology / Conservation posts

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  • May 27, 2015
  • 03:52 PM
  • 59 views

Expanding the code of life with new ‘letters’

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

The DNA encoding all life on Earth is made of four building blocks called nucleotides, commonly known as “letters,” that line up in pairs and twist into a double helix. Now, two groups of scientists are reporting for the first time that two new nucleotides can do the same thing — raising the possibility that entirely new proteins could be created for medical uses.... Read more »

Georgiadis, M., Singh, I., Kellett, W., Hoshika, S., Benner, S., & Richards, N. (2015) Structural Basis for a Six Nucleotide Genetic Alphabet. Journal of the American Chemical Society, 2147483647. DOI: 10.1021/jacs.5b03482  

Zhang, L., Yang, Z., Sefah, K., Bradley, K., Hoshika, S., Kim, M., Kim, H., Zhu, G., Jiménez, E., Cansiz, S.... (2015) Evolution of Functional Six-Nucleotide DNA. Journal of the American Chemical Society. DOI: 10.1021/jacs.5b02251  

  • May 27, 2015
  • 08:00 AM
  • 48 views

Hermit Houses And Fiddler Claws

by Mark Lasbury in As Many Exceptions As Rules

Fiddler crabs are an evolutionary marvel. Their major claw is huge, it plays a role in mate selection, but not just in the way you’d think.
Some species are right-clawed and some can have the major claw on either side, but if they lose one and grow it back, the major claw might switch sides! The new major claw isn’t as good for fighting, so he fakes being strong and tries to win without fighting.
... Read more »

Backwell, P., Matsumasa, M., Double, M., Roberts, A., Murai, M., Keogh, J., & Jennions, M. (2007) What are the consequences of being left-clawed in a predominantly right-clawed fiddler crab?. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 274(1626), 2723-2729. DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2007.0666  

  • May 25, 2015
  • 09:59 PM
  • 44 views

How houseflies resist the toxic effects of DDT

by Rosin Cerate in Rosin Cerate

Alright, it's insecticide day here at Rosin Cerate, and I've decided to look back at a classic.DDT is a synthetic organochloride insecticide, meaning that we have to manufacture it by reacting chemicals together, it consists of hydrogen, carbon, and chlorine atoms, and it's good at killing many annoying invertebrates including flies, lice, and mosquitoes.While it's useful in that it can kill insects, three key properties of DDT enable it to cause serious ecological problems: (1) it's often not e........ Read more »

  • May 22, 2015
  • 03:11 PM
  • 92 views

Air pollution is causing your baby problems, but breastfeeding can help

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Aitana Lertxundi has conducted her research work within the framework of the INma (Childhood and Environment) programme led by Jesús Ibarluzea of the Department of Health of the Government of the Basque Autonomous Community (region). The aim is to assess how exposure to environmental pollution during pregnancy affects health and also to examine the role of diet in physical and neurobehavioural development in infancy. The study focusses on the repercussions on motor and mental development during........ Read more »

  • May 22, 2015
  • 05:04 AM
  • 97 views

Evaluation of a spatial ecosystem model: predictions and data

by sceintists from the Marine group at CEES in Marine Science blog




Spatial Ecosystem models can be useful but need to be validated with data. Our study validates for the first time the spatial version of the commonly used Ecopath with Ecosim ecosystem modelling suite. We find that spatial distribution of fish species is well predicted by the model, but fishing effort distribution is not.

... Read more »

  • May 20, 2015
  • 06:04 PM
  • 92 views

Tiny grains of lithium dramatically improve performance of fusion plasma

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

While fusion might still be a far off dream, a new discovery may help bring that dream closer to reality. Scientists have discovered a phenomenon that helps them to improve fusion plasmas, a finding that could quicken the development of large scale fusion energy. The scientists found that when they injected tiny grains of lithium into a plasma undergoing a particular kind of turbulence then, under the right conditions, the temperature and pressure rose dramatically.... Read more »

Kaye, S., Abrams, T., Ahn, J., Allain, J., Andre, R., Andruczyk, D., Barchfeld, R., Battaglia, D., Bhattacharjee, A., Bedoya, F.... (2015) An overview of recent physics results from NSTX. Nuclear Fusion, 55(10), 104002. DOI: 10.1088/0029-5515/55/10/104002  

  • May 20, 2015
  • 10:18 AM
  • 83 views

Why Some Bugs Are Attracted to the Wrong Species

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish



The squash bug mating orgies that biologist Christine Miller began noticing in gardens around Gainesville were nothing unusual. Dozens of insects were crowded together, the petite males along with the bulkier females, to search for partners. The unusual thing was that some males were copulating with females of the wrong species—apparently, they found them irresistible.

When Jen Hamel arrived at Miller's University of Florida lab to do her postdoctoral research, she took up the mystery o........ Read more »

  • May 20, 2015
  • 08:00 AM
  • 74 views

The Ugly Butterfly Gets The Girl

by Mark Lasbury in As Many Exceptions As Rules

A current theory is that humans (and other animals) perceive symmetry as beauty and is desirable in a mate. Symmetric bodies and faces are correlated with strength, overall health, facial beauty, and dancing ability, but also with extramarital affairs. On the other hand, on butterfly thrives on ugliness. Asymmetric wings actually help males fly better during sexual competitions and gives them a reproductive advantage.... Read more »

Little, A., Paukner, A., Woodward, R., & Suomi, S. (2012) Facial asymmetry is negatively related to condition in female macaque monkeys. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 66(9), 1311-1318. DOI: 10.1007/s00265-012-1386-4  

Fink, B., Weege, B., Manning, J., & Trivers, R. (2014) Body symmetry and physical strength in human males. American Journal of Human Biology, 26(5), 697-700. DOI: 10.1002/ajhb.22584  

Thomas F, Doyon J, Elguero E, Dujardin JP, Brodeur J, Roucher C, Robert V, Missé D, Raymond M, & Trape JF. (2015) Plasmodium infections and fluctuating asymmetry among children and teenagers from Senegal. Infection, genetics and evolution : journal of molecular epidemiology and evolutionary genetics in infectious diseases, 97-101. PMID: 25725158  

  • May 18, 2015
  • 06:26 AM
  • 75 views

‘Water, water, everywhere, Nor any drop to drink’ – Safe drinking water and Adequate sanitation are indispensable for eradicating Cholera

by Sarah Stephen in An ecological oratorio

What has Cholera to do with environment? Absolutely everything!  In this post, we look at why clean water and safe sanitation is essential for eradicating this dreadful disease from our planet. Access to clean drinking water and safe sanitation could eradicate cholera. (Image - Sam Stephen) Cholera, an acute intestinal infection caused by ingestion of food or liquids contaminated with the bacterium Vibrio cholerae, elicits the same fear today, as it did in the past. Although cholera has aff........ Read more »

Miwanda B, Moore S, Muyembe JJ, Nguefack-Tsague G, Kabangwa IK, Ndjakani DY, Mutreja A, Thomson N, Thefenne H, Garnotel E.... (2015) Antimicrobial Drug Resistance of Vibrio cholerae, Democratic Republic of the Congo. Emerging infectious diseases, 21(5), 847-51. PMID: 25897570  

Waldman RJ, Mintz ED, & Papowitz HE. (2013) The cure for cholera--improving access to safe water and sanitation. The New England journal of medicine, 368(7), 592-4. PMID: 23301693  

  • May 17, 2015
  • 02:48 PM
  • 98 views

Which is most valuable: Gold, cocaine or rhino horn?

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Many of the world’s largest herbivores — including several species of elephants, rhinoceroses, hippopotamuses and gorillas — are in danger of becoming extinct. And if current trends continue, the loss of these animals would have drastic implications not only for the species themselves, but also for other animals and the environments and ecosystems in which they live, according to a new report by an international team of scientists.... Read more »

Ripple, W., Newsome, T., Wolf, C., Dirzo, R., Everatt, K., Galetti, M., Hayward, M., Kerley, G., Levi, T., Lindsey, P.... (2015) Collapse of the world's largest herbivores. Science Advances, 1(4). DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1400103  

  • May 15, 2015
  • 10:03 AM
  • 90 views

Nature's natural fix to the ticking carbon time bomb in the peatlands

by Jonathan Trinastic in Goodnight Earth

Peatlands have long been seen as a dangerous store of carbon that could be released as glaciers melt and temperatures increase. But new research suggests Nature has some natural adaptations at hand to prevent such a release from occurring!... Read more »

  • May 11, 2015
  • 04:02 PM
  • 101 views

GMO beef with the heart benefits of fish, why not?

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Sometimes you just want beef, but beef is high in omega-6 fatty acids and low in the omega-3 type. Conversely, different types of fish are high in omega-3, but we all know they don’t compare to that tasty burger flavor. So what’s a beef lover to do, well if you’re in China you might have some options! Chinese scientists have reared beef rich in the beneficial fatty acids associated with fish oils.... Read more »

Cheng, G., Fu, C., Wang, H., Adoligbe, C., Wei, S., Li, S., Jiang, B., Wang, H., & Zan, L. (2015) Production of transgenic beef cattle rich in n-3 PUFAs by somatic cell nuclear transfer. Biotechnology Letters. DOI: 10.1007/s10529-015-1827-z  

  • May 11, 2015
  • 05:20 AM
  • 76 views

Monkey Fever Disease in South India: Some recommendations for its management.

by Sarah Stephen in An ecological oratorio

Macaca radiataThe Western Ghats is a mountain range that runs parallel to the western coast of the India starting near the border of the states of Gujarat and Maharashtra and running through Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Kerala, and Tamil Nadu states ending at Kanya Kumari, the southern tip of India. The forests in the Western Ghats are unique in that they are some of the best representatives of non-equatorial tropical evergreen forests. With  an estimated 7,400 species of flowering plants, ........ Read more »

Kiran, S., Pasi, A., Kumar, S., Kasabi, G., Gujjarappa, P., Shrivastava, A., Mehendale, S., Chauhan, L., Laserson, K., & Murhekar, M. (2015) Kyasanur Forest Disease Outbreak and Vaccination Strategy, Shimoga District, India, 2013–2014. Emerging Infectious Diseases, 21(1), 146-149. DOI: 10.3201/eid2101.141227  

  • May 7, 2015
  • 05:46 PM
  • 134 views

What you need to know about the newly proposed science funding legislation

by Jonathan Trinastic in Goodnight Earth

The House Science Committee, chaired by Lamar Smith, unveiled their new science budget last week. Read on to see what it proposes and what it means for science.... Read more »

  • May 7, 2015
  • 03:17 PM
  • 129 views

Nanoparticles in products can significantly alter normal gut microbiome

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Nanoparticles, it’s the new buzzword that cosmetics and even consumer “anti-aging” products use to promote their brand. As the word suggests, nanoparticles are small and it shouldn’t be too surprising that these nanoparticles are causing problems in nature because of their prevalence. In that light, it might not be a surprise that there could also be some serious health issues associated with these nanoparticles.... Read more »

  • May 6, 2015
  • 08:00 AM
  • 122 views

Plants Aren’t Just Male Or Female

by Mark Lasbury in As Many Exceptions As Rules

It’s hard enough to believe that flowering plants have different sexes, but how about plants that have three sexes? One trioecious plant varies it sex ratio depending on how much water is around, while another only shows three sexes when it lives near a particular bat. But most amazing, man made the papaya into a three-sex plant. Your tropical fruit salad is made with a hermaphrodite.... Read more »

VanBuren R, Zeng F, Chen C, Zhang J, Wai CM, Han J, Aryal R, Gschwend AR, Wang J, Na JK.... (2015) Origin and domestication of papaya Yh chromosome. Genome research, 25(4), 524-33. PMID: 25762551  

  • May 5, 2015
  • 08:55 AM
  • 122 views

Journal Club: Birdfeeding favours non-native bird species

by GrrlScientist in Maniraptora

SUMMARY: Feeding wild birds on bread and seed encourages high densities of introduced bird species at the expense of native species, thereby altering urban bird communities, according to a new study... Read more »

  • May 5, 2015
  • 08:44 AM
  • 131 views

Journal Club: Birdfeeding favours non-native bird species

by GrrlScientist in The Invisible Scientist

SUMMARY: Feeding wild birds on bread and seed encourages high densities of introduced bird species at the expense of native species, thereby altering urban bird communities, according to a new study... Read more »

  • May 4, 2015
  • 07:22 PM
  • 181 views

Fracked, shale-drilling additives in drinking-water taps near leak

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Shale oil has helped the US see lower gas prices and even an opportunity to start exporting. However, it isn’t as great as it might sound, hydraulic fracturing — also known as fracking — has been scrutinized by environmentalists since it’s inception. As it turns out, for good reason, substances commonly used for drilling or extracting Marcellus shale gas foamed from the drinking water taps of three Pennsylvania homes near a reported well-pad leak, according to new analysis from a team of........ Read more »

Garth T. Llewellyn, Frank Dorman, J. L. Westland, D. Yoxtheimer, Paul Grieve, Todd Sowers, E. Humston-Fulmer, & Susan L. Brantley. (2015) Evaluating a groundwater supply contamination incident attributed to Marcellus Shale gas development. PNAS. info:/10.1073/pnas.1420279112

  • May 1, 2015
  • 10:56 AM
  • 165 views

Lizards in Long-Term Relationships Can Skip the Foreplay

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish



Why would two stubby-legged, blue-tongued Australian reptiles want to stay together not just for a mating season, but for decades? A 31-year study of the reptiles has suggested an answer. While newly formed couples are still getting to know each other, lizards in long-term relationships can start mating earlier in the season. And dispensing with the foreplay might give them a reproductive advantage over their casually dating neighbors.

Tiliqua rugosa is a species of blue-tongued skink tha... Read more »

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