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Ecology / Conservation posts

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  • February 14, 2016
  • 04:00 PM
  • 6 views

Methods Matter: Getting Started with the Skin Microbiome

by Geoffrey Hannigan in Prophage

The field of microbiome research has been hugely popular in the past few years. It has forced us to rethink our approaches to various medical practices, and has captured the imaginations of both amateur and professional scientists...... Read more »

Meisel JS, Hannigan GD, Tyldsley AS, SanMiguel AJ, Hodkinson BP, Zheng Q, & Grice EA. (2016) Skin microbiome surveys are strongly influenced by experimental design. The Journal of investigative dermatology. PMID: 26829039  

  • February 14, 2016
  • 12:25 AM
  • 20 views

Week Six In Review: Open-Access Science | 8 to 14 Feb

by TakFurTheKaffe in Tak Fur The Kaffe

Migrants to ancient Rome, more advanced Mesolithic Swedish communities, delayed transatlantic flights, expanding bird populations, and greener deserts thanks to climate change. Here are five of the latest scientific studies published open-access this week.... Read more »

  • February 11, 2016
  • 03:18 PM
  • 73 views

Synthetic biology breakthrough creates biosensors on demand

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Biosensors are powerful tools in synthetic biology for engineering metabolic pathways or controlling synthetic and native genetic circuits in bacteria. Scientists have had difficulty developing a method to engineer "designer" biosensor proteins that can precisely sense and report the presence of specific molecules, which has so far limited the number and variety of biosensor designs able to precisely regulate cell metabolism, cell biology, and synthetic gene circuits.

... Read more »

Taylor, N., Garruss, A., Moretti, R., Chan, S., Arbing, M., Cascio, D., Rogers, J., Isaacs, F., Kosuri, S., Baker, D.... (2015) Engineering an allosteric transcription factor to respond to new ligands. Nature Methods, 13(2), 177-183. DOI: 10.1038/nmeth.3696  

  • February 11, 2016
  • 03:15 PM
  • 71 views

Science Teachers Confused About … Um, Science

by Jenny Ludmer in Rooster's Report

Scientists may be in agreement on the causes of climate change, but the US public is not. We can blame biased news sources all we want for this disconnect, but a new study suggests yet another explanation: our science teachers. Although most are teaching about global warming, many simply aren’t doing it right.... Read more »

Eric Plutzer, Mark McCaffrey, A. Lee Hannah, Joshua Rosenau, Minda Berbeco, & Ann H. Reid. (2016) Climate confusion among U.S. teachers. Science, 351(6274). info:/10.1126/science.aab3907

  • February 11, 2016
  • 12:00 PM
  • 73 views

It's True: The Southwest Is Getting Drier

by Jenny Ludmer in Rooster's Report

Home of tumbleweeds and roadrunners, it’s no surprise that the Southwest is the driest region of the United States. And yet, new research confirms that which many have predicted: it’s getting even dryer. Not only are droughts more common, but they are more intense and longer-lasting too.... Read more »

Prein, A., Holland, G., Rasmussen, R., Clark, M., & Tye, M. (2016) Running dry: The U.S. Southwest's drift into a drier climate state. Geophysical Research Letters. DOI: 10.1002/2015GL066727  

  • February 11, 2016
  • 09:13 AM
  • 68 views

Life amid acidity near a smoldering part of the Arctic

by Rosin Cerate in Rosin Cerate

Way, way up in northwestern Canada (on the lower east side of Cape Bathurst, Northwest Territories), where the mainland meets the Arctic Ocean, a 30 km stretch of seacoast has been smoldering away for hundreds if not thousands of years.The Smoking Hills, named by the explorer John Franklin during one of his early 19th century expeditions to the Canadian Arctic, consist of shale bedrock covered by several meters worth of soil and loose rocks deposited by ancient glaciers and rivers. The land fall........ Read more »

  • February 9, 2016
  • 11:30 PM
  • 68 views

Lotka-Volterra, replicator dynamics, and stag hunting bacteria

by Artem Kaznatcheev in Evolutionary Games Group

Happy year of the monkey! Last time in the Petri dish, I considered the replicator dynamics between type-A and type-B cells abstractly. In the comments, Arne Traulsen pointed me to Li et al. (2015): We have attempted something similar in spirit with bacteria. Looking at frequencies alone, it looked like coordination. But taking into account […]... Read more »

Li, X.-Y., Pietschke, C., Fraune, S., Altrock, P.M., Bosch, T.C., & Traulsen, A. (2015) Which games are growing bacterial populations playing?. Journal of the Royal Society Interface, 12(108), 20150121. PMID: 26236827  

  • February 8, 2016
  • 03:00 PM
  • 67 views

Can Pollen Be Used to Make Batteries?

by Jenny Ludmer in Rooster's Report

We all know pollen can terrorize your eyes and nose and make you miserable, but now scientists think it could do something pretty amazing: store energy. Yes, that’s right. By precisely processing the irritating stuff, pollen’s unique structures appear to be perfectly suited to store energy in batteries. And that’s nothing to sneeze at.... Read more »

  • February 8, 2016
  • 01:59 PM
  • 159 views

We can build it better: Synthetic biopathway turns agriculture waste into ‘green’ products

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Researchers at the University of Minnesota have engineered a new synthetic biopathway that can more efficiently and cost-effectively turn agricultural waste, like corn stover and orange peels, into a variety of useful products ranging from spandex to chicken feed.

... Read more »

Tai, Y., Xiong, M., Jambunathan, P., Wang, J., Wang, J., Stapleton, C., & Zhang, K. (2016) Engineering nonphosphorylative metabolism to generate lignocellulose-derived products. Nature Chemical Biology. DOI: 10.1038/nchembio.2020  

  • February 8, 2016
  • 12:41 PM
  • 147 views

Why Ask for Directions? (A Guest Post)

by Miss Behavior in The Scorpion and the Frog

by Anna Schneider For the iconic monarch butterfly, the shorter days in fall mean it’s time to pack up and head south to a warmer climate! Just like clockwork, the Eastern population of monarch butterflies makes a 2000 mile journey to their winter paradise roosts in central Mexico. The journey in itself is one of the greatest migrations among all animals. But here’s the catch: none of these butterflies has made this trip before. Several generations of monarchs have come and gon........ Read more »

  • February 5, 2016
  • 03:27 PM
  • 192 views

Man-made underwater sound may have wider ecosystem effects

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Underwater sound linked to human activity could alter the behaviour of seabed creatures that play a vital role in marine ecosystems, according to new research from the University of Southampton. The study found that exposure to sounds that resemble shipping traffic and offshore construction activities results in behavioural responses in certain invertebrate species that live in the marine sediment.

... Read more »

  • February 5, 2016
  • 09:09 AM
  • 172 views

Greenland ice sheets losing ability to absorb meltwater

by Jonathan Trinastic in Goodnight Earth

Greenland has long held sea-level rise at bay, absorbing melted water into spongy upper layers. But new research has found that icy covers to these layers are preventing water absorption and driving water into the oceans.... Read more »

Machguth, H., MacFerrin, M., van As, D., Box, J., Charalampidis, C., Colgan, W., Fausto, R., Meijer, H., Mosley-Thompson, E., & van de Wal, R. (2016) Greenland meltwater storage in firn limited by near-surface ice formation. Nature Climate Change. DOI: 10.1038/nclimate2899  

  • February 5, 2016
  • 05:21 AM
  • 91 views

Disentangling the mechanisms behind climate effects on a key zooplankton species

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




A recently paper published in
PNAS, members of the CEES Marine Group explores potential climate effects on
Calanus finmarchicus, a key zooplankton species in the North Atlantic. The paper shows how the combination of shallow mixed-layer-depth and increased wind apparently increases chlorophyll biomass in spring, and in turn
C. finmarchicus biomass in summer. These findings strongly suggest bottom-up effects of food availability on zoopla........ Read more »

Kvile, K., Langangen, Ø., Prokopchuk, I., Stenseth, N., & Stige, L. (2016) Disentangling the mechanisms behind climate effects on zooplankton. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 201525130. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1525130113  

  • February 2, 2016
  • 12:35 PM
  • 119 views

Weird small holes in the woods

by Rosin Cerate in Rosin Cerate

Within the ground beneath our feet lie dark cavities of various shapes and sizes. They're home to pale and eyeless creatures living a midnight existence. Natural holes in the ground, filled with air and/or water, can be roughly categorized into three types based on the particular habitat they provide for subterranean organisms:(1) Caves are large, deep, and tend not to contain much organic matter for organisms to munch on. They're often found in karst and volcanic areas prone to developing big h........ Read more »

  • February 1, 2016
  • 10:28 AM
  • 75 views

A True Underdog…or Undermouse

by Miss Behavior in The Scorpion and the Frog

By Spencer Henkel People love a good underdog story, and nowhere is that image more embodied than in the rodents that live in deserts. In the desert there are two main problems that animals must face: it is way too hot and way too dry. You would think that rodents, the smallest of mammals, would not have much difficulty surviving in this kind of habitat. You might think that they would need far less food and water than their larger neighbors like reptiles and birds. Unfortunately, this is no........ Read more »

  • January 29, 2016
  • 12:29 PM
  • 147 views

Lizards Overcome Lack of Mirrors to Find Rocks That Match Their Colors

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish



Think about the last time you stood squinting in front of a full-length mirror, trying to decide whether the colors in your outfit went together. Now imagine you're a reptile, and you wouldn't even understand a mirror if you saw one, but somehow you need to find a rock that matches your skin color. Otherwise you might get eaten by a bird today. Oh, and the skin color you need to match is on your back.

Certain lizards in Greece manage to pull this off every day, though how they do it is a ... Read more »

  • January 29, 2016
  • 08:39 AM
  • 138 views

The power of poop: revolutionizing wastewater treatment

by Jonathan Trinastic in Goodnight Earth

A commentary in Nature proposes a complete overhaul of how we treat our wastewater. Among the benefits would be new energy-producing industry and reduce greenhouse gas emissions!... Read more »

Li, W., Yu, H., & Rittmann, B. (2015) Chemistry: Reuse water pollutants. Nature, 528(7580), 29-31. DOI: 10.1038/528029a  

  • January 29, 2016
  • 12:25 AM
  • 7 views

European killer whales face extinction due to banned pollutants

by TakFurTheKaffe in Tak Fur The Kaffe

Levels of the toxic compound PCBs in the marine environment are now so high that they threaten the very existence of some of Europe’s top sea predators, suggests new research. ... Read more »

Jepson, P., Deaville, R., Barber, J., Aguilar, �., Borrell, A., Murphy, S., Barry, J., Brownlow, A., Barnett, J., Berrow, S.... (2016) PCB pollution continues to impact populations of orcas and other dolphins in European waters. Scientific Reports, 18573. DOI: 10.1038/srep18573  

  • January 25, 2016
  • 11:52 AM
  • 166 views

Zika virus and the negligence towards health research in poor countries

by Piter Boll in Earthling Nature

by Piter Kehoma Boll About a year ago, almost nobody on the whole world was aware of the existence of a virus named Zika virus and the illness it may cause in humans, the Zika fever or Zika disease. But … Continue reading →... Read more »

  • January 23, 2016
  • 12:25 AM
  • 156 views

Top four threats to the ocean, according to marine scientists

by TakFurTheKaffe in Tak Fur The Kaffe

Overfishing, global warming, waste and contamination, and ocean acidification are at the forefront of scientists concerns.... Read more »

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