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Ecology / Conservation posts

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  • December 19, 2014
  • 07:52 AM
  • 43 views

The stench of compatibility: How otters identify one another, and potential mates by smelling their poop

by Denise O'Meara in Denise O'Meara

Otters don’t tend to be very visible to us, but they are more abundant than we might perceive them to be. Otters mostly live in isolation of one another, yet they manage to remotely communicate to one another without the aid of modern technology that we so often depend upon for communication.

On this blog, I previously wrote how otters communicate with one another using their spraints (faeces). They use them to mark their territory and to leave messages for other otters. As part of the rese........ Read more »

Kean, E., Chadwick, E., & Müller, C. (2014) Scent signals individual identity and country of origin in otters. Mammalian Biology - Zeitschrift für Säugetierkunde. DOI: 10.1016/j.mambio.2014.12.004  

  • December 18, 2014
  • 09:47 AM
  • 51 views

Temperature effects on Calanus finmarchicus vary in space, time and between developmental stages

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




Increased sea temperature due to climate change can influence the distribution, abundance and seasonal timing of zooplankton. Changing zooplankton dynamics might in turn impact the higher trophic levels, such as fish and seabirds, feeding on these animals. In a recent paper, we show that temperature variation in the Atlantic waters of the Norwegian Sea and Barents Sea might have stronger effects on the abundance of the younger than older development stages of Calanus fin........ Read more »

  • December 16, 2014
  • 11:38 AM
  • 16 views

Spying on Animals' Movements to Learn How They're Feeling

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish



Rory Wilson recalls some nervous waterbirds.

"I've seen pelicans in Galapagos, in the port," the Swansea University biologist says. One set of birds was standing by the fish-gutting area and waiting for scraps, while another group stood out of the fray in some nearby bushes. Although both sets of pelicans acted the same, a closer look at the birds waiting for fish scraps revealed that they were quaking slightly. The tips of their wings trembled.

Wilson thinks the tremor in the pelicans... Read more »

Wilson, R., Grundy, E., Massy, R., Soltis, J., Tysse, B., Holton, M., Cai, Y., Parrott, A., Downey, L., Qasem, L.... (2014) Wild state secrets: ultra-sensitive measurement of micro-movement can reveal internal processes in animals. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, 12(10), 582-587. DOI: 10.1890/140068  

  • December 11, 2014
  • 07:00 AM
  • 79 views

Without it no music?

by Henkjan Honing in Music Matters

A short entry to announce a theme issue on Musicality in Philosophical Transactions B, to be out in February 2015... the year when the worlds first journal dedicated to science will celebrate its 350th anniversary.... Read more »

Honing H, ten Cate C, Peretz I, & Trehub SE. (2015) Without it no music: cognition, biology and evolution of musicality. Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B. info:/10.1098/rstb.2014.0088

  • December 10, 2014
  • 07:39 AM
  • 71 views

The genome sequence of African rice (Oryza glaberrima) and evidence for independent domestication

by Alice Breda in genome ecology evolution etc

Oryza glaberrima is an African species of rice that is not of the same origin as the Asian rice (Oryza sativa) and was independently domesticated from the progenitor Oryza barthii about 3,000 years ago.In this study recently published by Nature … Continue reading →... Read more »

Wang, M., Yu, Y., Haberer, G., Marri, P., Fan, C., Goicoechea, J., Zuccolo, A., Song, X., Kudrna, D., Ammiraju, J.... (2014) The genome sequence of African rice (Oryza glaberrima) and evidence for independent domestication. Nature Genetics, 46(9), 982-988. DOI: 10.1038/ng.3044  

  • December 10, 2014
  • 04:46 AM
  • 66 views

Seeds of change?

by Isabel Torres in Science in the clouds

Plant science is probably one of the least appreciated fields of life sciences, and yet, perhaps no other research area has produced as many technological advances beneficial for society. In an open letterreleased last month, 21 out of the 27 most cited plant scientists in Europe pledged decision makers to back plant research, which they feel is currently threatened by lack of funding and global public and political opposition to genetically modified organisms (GMOs). “In comparison for i........ Read more »

  • December 9, 2014
  • 09:30 PM
  • 72 views

The Bat with the Identity Crisis

by Andrew Harrington in Denise O'Meara

There is a misfortunate bat species that is going through a bit of an identity crisis at the moment. This poor creature is Natterer’s bat, or Myotis nattereri to give it its formal name (named after the distinguished 19th Century Austrian naturalist Johann Natterer, not because it makes a lot of noise, as I have sometimes been asked). Natterer’s bat is distributed across Europe and north-west Africa, and is mainly considered to be a woodland species- in other words, it has specialised in hun........ Read more »

Barratt, E., Deaville, R., Burland, T., Bruford, M., Jones, G., Racey, P., & Wayne, R. (1997) DNA answers the call of pipistrelle bat species. Nature, 387(6629), 138-139. DOI: 10.1038/387138b0  

  • December 9, 2014
  • 09:00 PM
  • 62 views

How to Look for Squirrels

by Denise O'Meara in Denise O'Meara

The Eurasian red squirrel is, in my opinion at least, one of the cutest additions to the Irish countryside. The little ear tufts of the red squirrel help differentiate it from the invasive grey squirrel, the North American competitor of the red squirrel introduced here about 100 years ago. Other features include the size difference, as the grey squirrel is quite a bit larger. You might think that it should be relatively easy to differentiate the species by colour, but colourations can vary consi........ Read more »

Rob Strachan. (2009) Mammal Detective (British Natural History Series) . Whittet Books Ltd. info:/

  • December 8, 2014
  • 08:02 AM
  • 75 views

Climate Change: Heatwaves and Poverty in Pakistan

by Jalees Rehman in The Next Regeneration

In the summer of 2010, over 20 million people were affected by the summer floods in Pakistan. Millions lost access to shelter and clean water, and became dependent on aid in the form of food, drinking water, tents, clothes and medical supplies in order to survive this humanitarian disaster. It is estimated that at least $1.5 billion to $2 billion were provided as aid by governments, NGOs, charity organizations and private individuals from all around the world, and helped contain the devastating ........ Read more »

  • December 5, 2014
  • 03:58 PM
  • 129 views

Move over solar pannels, introducing spray-on solar cells

by Gabriel in Lunatic Laboratories

Solar panels, they are big, heavy, cannot flex, and are still very inefficient. While efficiency isn’t the big issue, flexibility has relegated solar panels to rooftops and solar farms. Well that is until now, researchers have just invented a new way to spray solar cells onto flexible surfaces using miniscule light-sensitive materials known as colloidal quantum dots (CQDs)—a major step toward making spray-on solar cells easy and cheap to manufacture.... Read more »

Kramer, I., Moreno-Bautista, G., Minor, J., Kopilovic, D., & Sargent, E. (2014) Colloidal quantum dot solar cells on curved and flexible substrates. Applied Physics Letters, 105(16), 163902. DOI: 10.1063/1.4898635  

Carey GH, Kramer IJ, Kanjanaboos P, Moreno-Bautista G, Voznyy O, Rollny L, Tang JA, Hoogland S, & Sargent EH. (2014) Electronically active impurities in colloidal quantum dot solids. ACS nano, 8(11), 11763-9. PMID: 25376698  

Kramer, I., Minor, J., Moreno-Bautista, G., Rollny, L., Kanjanaboos, P., Kopilovic, D., Thon, S., Carey, G., Chou, K., Zhitomirsky, D.... (2014) Efficient Spray-Coated Colloidal Quantum Dot Solar Cells. Advanced Materials. DOI: 10.1002/adma.201403281  

  • December 5, 2014
  • 06:12 AM
  • 134 views

Why Our Western Diet Is A Ticking Time Bomb

by Agnese Mariotti in United Academics

The Western diet places our bodies and environment under untenable pressure. By 2050, scientists predict, this lifestyle will not only constitute two thirds of overall diseases, but it also lays an untenable pressure on our environment.... Read more »

  • December 4, 2014
  • 04:30 PM
  • 109 views

Finding the real cost of climate change

by Gabriel in Lunatic Laboratories

How much does global warming really cost the world? Determining the Social Cost of Carbon helps put a actual dollar value on the climate damages per ton of CO2 released, and is used by -- among others -- policymakers to help determine the costs and benefits of climate policies. Remember, even on a global scale, the bottom line will always be profit. But now a group of economists and lawyers urge several improvements to the government's Social Cost of Carbon figure that would impose a regular, tr........ Read more »

Pizer, W., Adler, M., Aldy, J., Anthoff, D., Cropper, M., Gillingham, K., Greenstone, M., Murray, B., Newell, R., Richels, R.... (2014) Using and improving the social cost of carbon. Science, 346(6214), 1189-1190. DOI: 10.1126/science.1259774  

  • December 4, 2014
  • 08:51 AM
  • 121 views

Journal Club: Do pufferfishes hold their breath when inflated?

by GrrlScientist in Maniraptora

SUMMARY: A newly-published study by a team of Australian scientists reveals that inflated pufferfish do not hold their breath, that they continue to obtain oxygen across their gills as usual. ... Read more »

  • December 3, 2014
  • 10:07 AM
  • 18 views

The question to be on time

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




Climate change is thought to change many aspects of the marine life. Among others, one can mention changes in species distribution (immigration of species; new species coming to northern areas), the rate of development (warmer the temperature, the faster is the development), and change in the timing of the reproduction. The latter has recently caught a lot of attention around a nearly 50 years old hypothesis of the British fisheries biologist David Cushing.

... Read more »

Durant, J., Hjermann, D., Falkenhaug, T., Gifford, D., Naustvoll, L., Sullivan, B., Beaugrand, G., & Stenseth, N. (2013) Extension of the match-mismatch hypothesis to predator-controlled systems. Marine Ecology Progress Series, 43-52. DOI: 10.3354/meps10089  

  • December 3, 2014
  • 09:24 AM
  • 33 views

Climate and abundance affects the distribution of a sub-arctic fish stock – a case study on Barents Sea haddock

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




Climate change, and especially alteration in sea temperature, is expected to have major effects on the distribution and abundance of marine fish. This is in particular the case in northern high-latitude marine ecosystems, where IPCC expects global warming to be especially pronounced.

... Read more »

Landa, C.S., Ottersen,G., Sundby, S., Dingsør, G.E., & Stiansen, J.E. (2014) Recruitment, distribution boundary and habitat temperature of an arcto-boreal gadoid in a climatically changing environment: a case study on Northeast Arctic haddock (Melanogrammus aeglefinus). Fisheries Oceanography, 23(6), 506-520. info:/10.1111/fog.12085

  • December 2, 2014
  • 04:37 PM
  • 104 views

The Montado, the Mouse and Landscape Connectivity

by Denise O'Meara in Denise O'Meara

...It was during this trip that we paid a visit to the cork oak-dominated Montado region. It is an open savannah-like landscape managed for centuries as an agri-silvo-pastoral system, dominated by evergreen oak and a rotational grazing system for domestic animals. The main commercial products from the region include cork (at one time, the only way to cork wine bottles) from cork oak trees, wood for charcoal and meat. Crops such as corn were at one time also cultivated in the region, but this tre........ Read more »

  • December 2, 2014
  • 12:51 PM
  • 123 views

Our Increased carbon dioxide output causes global warming and now we have proof

by Gabriel in Lunatic Laboratories

Global warming, it’s a bigger deal than some people seem to realize. For years science has pointed to the increased carbon dioxide output as the main reason for man-made global warming. However, there has been no evidence to directly link CO2 output to global warming, well until now. Research has identified, for the first time, how global warming is related to the amount of carbon emitted.... Read more »

  • December 1, 2014
  • 04:24 PM
  • 97 views

Feeding the Buzzards

by Denise O'Meara in Denise O'Meara

Eimear Rooney and colleagues from Queen’s University Belfast aimed to investigate that very question in a new study examining the effects of supplementary feeding on the common buzzard population in Northern Ireland. The study has recently been published in the international ornithology journal, Ibis.

Rooney and colleagues focused on mainly agricultural land consisting of improved grassland, but they also included areas of lower productivity such as bogs, rough grazing areas, woodlands and ........ Read more »

  • December 1, 2014
  • 03:05 PM
  • 101 views

A Surfeit of Salamanders: An Imagined Picture Book

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish

If ever there was a scientific study that deserved to be a children’s picture book, this was it. Scientists belly-crawled through the forests of the Ozarks, flipping stones and looking for slimy things that wriggled away from them. They learned that the forest is secretly packed with salamanders in unfathomable numbers, as many as 10 […]The post A Surfeit of Salamanders: An Imagined Picture Book appeared first on Inkfish.... Read more »

  • November 30, 2014
  • 01:31 PM
  • 123 views

Even more bad global warming news

by Gabriel in Lunatic Laboratories

While everyone (but seemingly the media) is on basically the same page with the fact that global warming is a human caused problem — and one we need to fix the effects of this change are still coming to light. Human-induced changes to Earth’s carbon cycle – for example, rising atmospheric carbon dioxide and ocean acidification – have been observed for decades. However, a new study showed human activities, in particular industrial and agricultural processes, have also had significant impa........ Read more »

Kim IN, Lee K, Gruber N, Karl DM, Bullister JL, Yang S, & Kim TW. (2014) Chemical oceanography. Increasing anthropogenic nitrogen in the North Pacific Ocean. Science (New York, N.Y.), 346(6213), 1102-6. PMID: 25430767  

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