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Ecology / Conservation posts

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  • July 7, 2015
  • 12:47 PM
  • 21 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
  • 12 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
  • 56 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
  • 89 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
  • 101 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
  • 79 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
  • 101 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
  • 72 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
  • 72 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
  • 95 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  

  • June 15, 2015
  • 12:50 PM
  • 113 views

Loving to Death

by Miss Behavior in The Scorpion and the Frog

The brown antechinus may look like a mouse - but that is where the similarities end. Photo by Glen Fergus at Wikimedia.Although most animal species breed multiple times throughout their lives, a few oddballs put everything they've got into a single reproductive season, after which they promptly die. This is a rare strategy (for obvious reasons), especially in mammals. One Australian mammal, the brown antechinus, is just odd enough to pull it off.The brown antechinus is a small insectivorous mous........ Read more »

  • June 12, 2015
  • 11:42 AM
  • 114 views

Late-Rising Birds Become Cuckolds

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish



You snooze, you lose paternity. That's the message of a new study on wild birds in Germany. Males that wake up the earliest are able to sneakily mate with other birds' partners. Males that sleep in, meanwhile, get stuck raising young that aren't their own.

Great tits (Parus major) appear monogamous at first glance. They stick with one partner and cooperate to raise their young. But, like many other birds that scientists call "socially monogamous," they sleep around. Great tit nests often ........ Read more »

Greives, T., Kingma, S., Kranstauber, B., Mortega, K., Wikelski, M., van Oers, K., Mateman, A., Ferguson, G., Beltrami, G., & Hau, M. (2015) Costs of sleeping in: circadian rhythms influence cuckoldry risk in a songbird. Functional Ecology. DOI: 10.1111/1365-2435.12440  

  • June 10, 2015
  • 08:31 AM
  • 103 views

Climate change will affect the distribution and diversity of marine organisms

by Sarah Stephen in An ecological oratorio

Climate change will force marine organisms  towards the poles, but would they be safe there too? Human activities such as emissions from the use of fossil fuels, rampant urbanisation, deforestation, and modern agricultural practices, are all altering the earth’s climate in an unprecedented scale. Climate change not only occurs in the land, but also in water bodies. Studies have indicated that sincethe 1950s, the amount of heat stored in the ocean (ocean heat) has increased considerab........ Read more »

Deutsch C, Ferrel A, Seibel B, Pörtner HO, & Huey RB. (2015) Ecophysiology. Climate change tightens a metabolic constraint on marine habitats. Science (New York, N.Y.), 348(6239), 1132-5. PMID: 26045435  

  • June 9, 2015
  • 05:48 PM
  • 116 views

Vampire Plants: Sucking Life into the Community

by Melissa Chernick in Science Storiented

I would like to introduce you to the yellow rattle (Rhinanthus minor). This little plant has pretty yellow flowers that belie a dark secret: it is a vampire plant. Okay, technically, it is a hemiparasite. The yellow rattle has green, photosynthetic leaves to make its own food, but its roots latch onto those of nearby plants to steal their water and nutrients. I guess you could say that it hasn’t gone full parasite. So what’s wrong with a little leaching of material from your neighbor? Must b........ Read more »

  • June 9, 2015
  • 09:39 AM
  • 113 views

What Happens When 28,000 Volunteers Are Set Loose in the Virtual Serengeti

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish



What's a scientist to do with 1.2 million photos, most of grass but some containing valuable data about endangered animals? Turn the whole thing over to the public, if you're the creators of Snapshot Serengeti. This project caught the attention of tens of thousands of volunteers. Now their work has produced a massive dataset that's already helping scientists in a range of fields.



Most online citizen science involves a degree of tedium—counting craters, tracing kelp mats. But Snapshot ... Read more »

  • June 2, 2015
  • 05:50 PM
  • 150 views

Prototheca are shoddy algae that eat oil, sewage, tree gunk, and people

by Rosin Cerate in Rosin Cerate

The natural world tends to defy easy categorization. Take algae, for example. A seemingly encompassing definition of this group would be small, simply structured green creatures that use the sun's energy to make food. So, things like seaweed and the vibrant goo that covers lakes and ponds polluted with nutrients. But of course it's not that simple, since kelp are freakin' huge and the colour palette of algae includes red, brown, and gold.Then there's the genus Prototheca. They're spherical&........ Read more »

McMullan B, Muthiah K, Stark D, Lee L, & Marriott D. (2011) Prototheca wickerhamii mimicking yeast: A cautionary tale. Journal of clinical microbiology, 49(8), 3078-81. PMID: 21653770  

  • May 27, 2015
  • 03:52 PM
  • 198 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
  • 141 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
  • 156 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
  • 184 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 »

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