An overcast sky is rarely a welcome sight for snorkelers on the Great Barrier Reef. But a generous cover of clouds could be exactly what’s needed for the future survival of the magnificent corals that make the reef the biodiversity wonder that it is.
The Great Barrier Reef hugs the north eastern coastline of Australia across more than 2600 kilometres, earning it the distinction of being the world’s largest coral reef system. A considerable portion of the nearly 3000 individual reefs and 900 islands lies within the protected waters of a marine park, yet human impact is still keenly felt.
Global warming has seen consistently higher sea surface temperatures over the past 45 years. These higher temperatures are the source of one of the greatest threats to reef survival – coral bleaching. Corals are made up of colonies of millions upon millions of tiny marine invertebrates that cement themselves together by secreting a calcium carbonate exoskeleton.... Read more »
Leahy SM, Kingsford MJ . (2013) Do clouds save the Great Barrier Reef? Satellite imagery elucidates the cloud-SST relationship at the local scale. PLoS ONE. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0070400
Most people might think of a shower as a daily ritual that is equal parts hygiene and relaxation: as soap bubbles and cascades down both body and drain, the warm water eases both muscle and mind in its heated caress. However, a small amount of scientific and medical research has hinted that cold water showers have several health and environmental benefits.... Read more »
Tipton MJ, Mekjavic IB, & Eglin CM. (2000) Permanence of the habituation of the initial responses to cold-water immersion in humans. European journal of applied physiology, 83(1), 17-21. PMID: 11072768
Siems WG, Brenke R, Sommerburg O, & Grune T. (1999) Improved antioxidative protection in winter swimmers. QJM : monthly journal of the Association of Physicians, 92(4), 193-8. PMID: 10396606
A male kangaroo’s forearm size could be a sexually selected trait and help them find a mate, a new study has found.
In fact, male kangaroos frequently adopt poses to show off their muscly arms to females, the authors have said.
The study, conducted by researchers from Murdoch University and Curtin University and published in Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, centred on data gained from dissecting 13 grey kangaroo males and 15 females.
Each forelimb was dissected and the weight relationships between the individual muscle mass and body mass were examined.... Read more »
Natalie M. Warburton, Philip W. Bateman, Patricia Anne Fleming. (2013) Sexual selection on forelimb muscles of western grey kangaroos (Skippy was clearly a female). Biological Journal of the Linnean Society. DOI: 10.1111/bij.12090
Today's Google Doodle honours pioneering British biophysicist and x-ray crystallographer, Rosalind Franklin... Read more »
In our lab we have a phone that rings several times a day. The conversation is always the same. A man from somewhere in the UK (where I’m from) is desperate to know the answer to one question: “Am I a Viking?”
An answer we could give is: “No. You don’t have a boat or a sword. You’re not a Viking.” But what they really want to know is whether their DNA points to a Scandinavian ancestry.
Maybe they could find some food for thought in a paper published in the journal PLOS Biology, which recently caught the attention of the mainstream media due to its supposedly surprising conclusion that Europeans shared common ancestors in the past 1,000 years. But re-examining this claim when you know a little about population genetics, makes it a subtle and more interesting phenomenon, but also a much less surprising one.... Read more »
Peter Ralph, & Graham Coop. (2012) The geography of recent genetic ancestry across Europe. PLoS Biology 11(5) 2013: e1001555. arXiv: 1207.3815v5
Every wolf has its own distinct voice.... Read more »
Holly Root-Gutteridgea, Martin Bencsikb, Manfred Cheblib, Louise K. Gentlea, Christopher Terrell-Nieldb, Alexandra Bouritb . (2013) Identifying individual wild Eastern grey wolves (Canis lupus lycaon) using fundamental frequency and amplitude of howls. Bioacoustics: The International Journal of Animal Sound and its Recording. DOI: 10.1080/09524622.2013.817317
he display of a frozen mammoth in Japan has again raised questions as to the possibility of creating a live born clone of extinct animals.
Theoretically, mammoths could be cloned by recovering, reconstructing or synthesizing viable mammoth DNA and injecting it into the egg cell of a modern elephant whose nuclear DNA has been removed; alternatively, mammoth genetic material could be introduced into an elephant genome in order to create a mammoth-elephant hybrid or chimera.
This raises an ethical question as to whether we should start the journey down one of these paths.... Read more »
Douglas T, Powell R, & Savulescu J. (2013) Is the creation of artificial life morally significant?. Studies in history and philosophy of biological and biomedical sciences. PMID: 23810562
Oxytocin, sometimes called ”The Love Hormone“, has emerged over the past decade as somewhat of a magical substance. It has been known for some time to be central in mother-child bonding in animals, but more recently has been implicated in human behaviors, like increasing trust in strangers. The excitement over oxytocin has encouraged scientists to better understand its effects and some studies have recently revealed a “dark side” to oxytocin, like increased anxiety.... Read more »
Guzmán YF, Tronson NC, Jovasevic V, Sato K, Guedea AL, Mizukami H, Nishimori K, & Radulovic J. (2013) Fear-enhancing effects of septal oxytocin receptors. Nature neuroscience. PMID: 23872596
For more than a decade, studies have reported a drop in the numbers of pollinator species, such as bees and butterflies, but so far computer models have predicted that plant communities would be able to recover from this cutback. However, it turns out that losing just a single bumblebee species can have a dramatic impact on plant reproduction, by changing how remaining pollinators react, says a study published in PNAS.
“I had been sceptical of the computer models that predict strong resilience of plant communities to pollinator species losses for some time”, said Dr Berry Brosi, ecologist from Emory University and first author in the study. “I was particularly dubious of the assumption that there will be no change in the interactions between plants and pollinators when you lose species from the system.”... Read more »
Brosi BJ, & Briggs HM. (2013) Single pollinator species losses reduce floral fidelity and plant reproductive function. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. PMID: 23878216
by Terrific T in Science, I Choose You
This is part 2 of my 4-part series about studying gender bias in science (See part 1). For studies using existing data, we look at information that is already available, and learn from the information through data analysis. The difficulty in these studies is that because you are not in control of how the information […]... Read more »
Isbell Lynne A., Young Truman P., Harcourt Alexander H., & Lambert Joanna E. (2012) Stag Parties Linger: Continued Gender Bias in a Female-Rich Scientific Discipline. PLoS ONE, 7(11). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0049682.g002
Schroeder J., Dugdale H. L., Radersma R., Hinsch M., Buehler D. M., Saul J., Porter L., Liker A., De Cauwer I., & Johnson P. J. (2013) Fewer invited talks by women in evolutionary biology symposia. Journal of Evolutionary Biology. DOI: 10.1111/jeb.12198
Taking antioxidant supplements when exercising could do more harm than good.... Read more »
Gliemann, L., Schmidt, J.F., Olesen, J., Biensø, S.U., Mortensen, S.P., Nyberg, M., Bangsbo, J., Pilegaard, H. and Hellsten, Y. (2013) Resveratrol blunts the positive effects of exercise training on cardiovascular health in aged men. The Journal of Physiology. DOI: 10.1113/jphysiol.2013.258061
Nanoparticles heated by an alternating magnetic field could be used to treat cancers.... Read more »
Huang TE . (2013) Intravenous magnetic nanoparticle cancer hyperthermia. International Journal of Nanomedicine . DOI: 10.2147/IJN.S43770
The microbes of an organism could affect the evolution of a new species.... Read more »
Robert M. Brucker and Seth R. Bordenstein. (2013) The Hologenomic Basis of Speciation: Gut Bacteria Cause Hybrid Lethality in the Genus Nasonia. Science. info:/
The DNA of Albert Perry may change the story of human origins. Perry, an African-American, approached a DNA testing company to find out more about his ancestry. The results would have come as quite a surprise (had he lived to see them), and have raised questions for geneticists around the world.
It turns out that Perry carried a very different type of Y chromosome, never seen before. Every male has a Y chromosome, which is a piece of DNA inherited by sons from their fathers. But, unlike most DNA, the Y chromosome is not shuffled as it is passed down, and changes only slowly through mutation. Tracking these mutations allows scientists to create a genetic tree of fathers and sons going back through time.... Read more »
Batini C, & Jobling MA. (2011) The jigsaw puzzle of our African ancestry: unsolved, or unsolvable?. Genome biology, 12(6), 118. PMID: 21722347
Strange as it may seem, water doesn’t actually freeze at zero degrees. In fact, even at temperatures as cold as -10°C, water still needs help turning into ice. Living creatures of all stripes have learned to take advantage of this curious fact in different ways, though none have done so with quite as much style as bacteria.... Read more »
Constantinidou HA, Hirano SS, Baker LS, . (2013) Atmospheric Dispersal of Ice Nucleation-Active Bacteria: The Role of Rain Phytopathology. Phytopathology. DOI: 10.1094/Phyto-80-934
Morris CE, Sands DC, Vinatzer BA, Glaux C, Guilbaud C, Buffière A, Yan S, Dominguez H, . (2008) he life history of the plant pathogen Pseudomonas syringae is linked to the water cycle. The ISME journal. DOI: 10.1038/ismej.2007.113
The famous paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould once asked what would happen if we were to ‘replay the tape of life’. How different or similar would it turn out? He himself thought it could be profoundly different. In other words, in his view evolution is unrepeatable.
However, instances of convergent evolution, where organisms of a different pedigree can evolve to look surprisingly similar, have caused some to ask whether there might not be somewhat predictable patterns or trends in the grand process that is evolution. Just think of a tuna (fish), dolphin (mammal), and ichthyosaur (reptile). Look quite similar, don’t they?... Read more »
Mahler, D.L.; Ingram, T.; Revell, L.J. . (2013) Exceptional Convergence on the Macroevolutionary Landscape in Island Lizard Radiations. Science. DOI: 10.1126/science.1232392
n a paper published in March 2013, Drs. Rohan, Heo, Choi and colleagues have examined the relationship between body fat and the risk for development of breast cancer in post-menopausal women. ... Read more »
Rohan TE, Heo M, Choi L, Datta M, Freudenheim JL, Kamensky V, Ochs-Balcom HM, Qi L, Thomson CA, Vitolins MZ.... (2013) Body fat and breast cancer risk in postmenopausal women: a longitudinal study. Journal of cancer epidemiology, 754815. PMID: 23690776
The road to market for a promising new therapy can be notoriously long and treacherous. Before the first small-scale clinical trials in humans can even be contemplated, a new therapy (such as a drug or surgical procedure) must first pass muster in preclinical animal studies.... Read more »
Tsilidis KK, Panagiotou OA, Sena ES, Aretouli E, Evangelou E, Howells DW, Salman RA, Macleod MR . (2013) Evaluation of excess significance bias in animal studies of neurological diseases. PLoS Biology . DOI: 10.1371/journal.pbio.1001609
Hi Julie, I loved hearing from Clare Browne about her research into timing of reinforcement in our first guest post last week, and it certainly stimulated lots of great comments and questions on Facebook and Google+. I know you've been busy Chaser-ing around (lucky ducks, both!) and there's also all those amazing conferences happening this week, what with the ISAZ, IAHAIO and AVSAB events on in Chicago, so just a very quick post from me this week! You know how we recently put together out list of top ten books for the Science Book a Day team? Well, Chaser's upcoming book release reminded me that we should put them all in one place here, so that we (or anyone else looking for a canine science book or fourteen) could find them easily if needed. Science Book A DayIn no particular order, here they are: McGreevy (2009) A Modern Dog’s Life. A fabulous book, written with humour and insight, that offers a modern take on what challenges and motivates our dogs and how we can best meet their needs.http://doyoubelieveindog.blogspot.com/2012/09/todays-favorites-paul-mcgreevys-books.htmlSearch to purchase: http://booko.com.au/9781742231051/A-Modern-Dog-s-LifeHorowitz (2009) Inside of a Dog.What’s it like to be a dog? This book covers the science of how dogs think and perceive the world and is accompanied by personal reflections on Horowitz’s own dog’s behaviour. Get to know the umwelt of the dog.http://doyoubelieveindog.blogspot.com.au/2012/12/tis-season-to-be-doggy-fa-la-la-la-laaaa.htmlSearch to purchase: http://booko.com.au/9781451672756/Inside-of-a-Dog Bradshaw (2012) Dog Sense: How the New Science of Dog Behavior Can Make You a Better Friend to Your Pet.This recent publication answers the very important question: “What’s good for dogs?” Exp... Read more »
Ramos Daniela, Ades Cesar, & Dornhaus Anna. (2012) Two-Item Sentence Comprehension by a Dog (Canis familiaris). PLoS ONE, 7(2). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0029689.g002
van der Zee Emile, Zulch Helen, Mills Daniel, & Dornhaus Anna. (2012) Word Generalization by a Dog (Canis familiaris): Is Shape Important?. PLoS ONE, 7(11). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0049382.s003
You know it’s not only you and me who are constantly evolving by adjusting to our living environment; There are millions of others too who are doing this job as efficiently as it could be. Researchers from University of Illinois have discovered that gut bacteria facilitate the adaptation of the western corn rootworm, which is basically a beetle, to crop rotation.... Read more »
Chu CC, Spencer JL, Curzi MJ, Zavala JA, & Seufferheld MJ. (2013) Gut bacteria facilitate adaptation to crop rotation in the western corn rootworm. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. PMID: 23798396
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