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Ecology / Conservation posts

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  • March 2, 2015
  • 02:05 PM
  • 38 views

You are what you eat

by naturallyspeakingpodcast in Naturally Speaking Podcast

Ecologists have long tried to understand what animals get up to when they’re not being observed. GPS technologies have enabled unprecedented remote-tracking, but some behaviours – such as diet – are a little more tricky to track. In this post James Grecian (@JamesGrecian), a marine ecologist at the Institute, discusses a technique he uses to track the diet of marine seabirds across some of the world’s […]

... Read more »

  • February 28, 2015
  • 02:46 PM
  • 98 views

Life, NOT as we know it

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Life as we know it, when we peer deep into the vastness of space we look for someone — or something — that resembles ourselves. Carbon based, needs water lifeforms, but what if we’re being narrow-minded? A new type of methane-based, oxygen-free life form that can metabolize and reproduce similar to life on Earth has been modeled by a team of researchers suggests we are being too closed minded about life.... Read more »

James Stevenson,, Jonathan Lunine,, & Paulette Clancy. (2015) Membrane alternatives in worlds without oxygen: Creation of an azotosome. Science Advances. info:/http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/sciadv.1400067

  • February 27, 2015
  • 12:02 PM
  • 87 views

Good News, Northerners: Birds from Harsher Climates Are Smarter

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish



You won't see a chickadee shoveling out a parking space and claiming it with a folding chair, no matter how good your binoculars are. But birds, too, have to be resourceful when they live in inhospitable climates. Travel just 600 meters up a mountain, and you'll find chickadees vastly more clever than their peers living a more comfortable life below.

How do you test the cleverness of birds? Using tubes with tasty worms inside, naturally. Biologists don't like to call animals "smart," thou... Read more »

  • February 24, 2015
  • 04:38 PM
  • 77 views

Move over oil, new pretreatment could cut biofuel costs by 30 percent or more

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Alternative fuels have a few large problems making them horrible options over oil (which is already a horrible choice). However, researchers may have finally eliminated one of those problems, cost. The team has invented a novel pretreatment technology that could cut the cost of biofuels production by about 30 percent or more by dramatically reducing the amount of enzymes needed to breakdown the raw materials that form biofuels.... Read more »

  • February 24, 2015
  • 03:11 AM
  • 58 views

Shelf Life: the Olinguito’s Skull

by GrrlScientist in Maniraptora

SUMMARY: Instead of travelling to remote locations in faraway countries, scientists sometimes discover a new species by looking a little more closely at an old specimen in a museum drawer. ... Read more... Read more »

  • February 22, 2015
  • 11:13 AM
  • 93 views

Of tree rings and rain: drought predicted to worsen in southwestern United States

by Jonathan Trinastic in Goodnight Earth

Droughts have been severe in California and surrounding states, but will they be any worse than previous droughts in Earth's history? A combination of climate models and tree ring analysis provides an answer.... Read more »

Benjamin I. Cook, Toby R. Ault, Jason E. Smerdon. (2015) Unprecedented 21st century drought risk in the American Southwest and Central Plains. Science Advances. info:/

  • February 20, 2015
  • 11:17 AM
  • 81 views

The Little Lemming That Could (Bite Your Face Off)

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish



In a world of shy, quiet-as-a-mouse rodents, one lemming is the exact opposite. It attacks when it should retreat to a hole. It squeals and shrieks when it should keep silent. One scientist is working to figure out how evolution created this animal—and wearing thick gloves while he does it.

First, forget what you think you know about lemmings. You've likely heard a rumor that these rodents hurl themselves off of cliffs in droves. It's not true, though the makers of a 1958 Disney documenta... Read more »

  • February 18, 2015
  • 06:17 PM
  • 106 views

The biofuel controversy

by Jonathan Trinastic in Goodnight Earth

Many countries are adding biofuels to their mandates for carbon-free, renewable energy? But does biofuel truly fit the bill? Not so much, contrary to what popular culture hopes to believe. Find out the details here.... Read more »

  • February 13, 2015
  • 12:35 PM
  • 140 views

You Can Force Birds to Be Friends, but It Won't Stick

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish



As anyone who's made valentines for a whole elementary-school class knows, kids are often pushed into social groups not of their choosing. Scientists tried the same thing with wild birds and found it pretty easy to coax them into new cliques. The birds hung out with their new social circles even when they didn't have to. But once the experiment ended, those friendships dissolved faster than a candy conversation heart.

To create new social groups in birds, researchers essentially controlle... Read more »

  • February 11, 2015
  • 06:38 PM
  • 120 views

10 Species Named After Star Wars Characters

by David Steen in Living Alongside Wildlife



Pictures courtesy of Lucasfilm and J. Armbruster

    Leaving the movie theater in 1977, with Greedo's death at the hands of Han Solo a fresh memory, a young Jon Armbruster could not have anticipated the role that Jabba the Hutt's go-to bounty hunter would play in his scientific contributions decades later.

    And yet...when he (along with Auburn University researchers Milton Tan, Christopher... Read more »

  • February 9, 2015
  • 11:21 AM
  • 142 views

The Beginnings of Jurassic Park: Dinosaur Blood Discovered? (A Guest Post)

by Miss Behavior in The Scorpion and the Frog

By Samantha VoldThe classic tale of Jurassic Park, where dinosaurs once again walked the earth has tickled the fancy of many a reader. Dinosaur DNA preserved in a fossilized mosquito was used to bring these giants back to life. But in real life, it was previously thought that there was no possible way for organic materials to be preserved, that they often degraded within 1 million years if not rapidly attacked by bacteria and other organisms specialized in decomposition. Skin and other soft tiss........ Read more »

Schweitzer, M. (2010) Blood from Stone. Scientific American, 303(6), 62-69. DOI: 10.1038/scientificamerican1210-62  

  • February 6, 2015
  • 10:49 AM
  • 145 views

Cleaner Lakes Are Social Media Stars

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish



Minnesota is the "Land of 10,000 Lakes," at least 13 of which are named Clear. But some of these lakes are clearer and cleaner than others. Does that matter to the tourists who visit them? Researchers found an easy way to answer this question by taking a deep dive into Flickr.

Bonnie Keeler, a scientist at the University of Minnesota's Institute on the Environment, explains that it's important to measure how the public is using various lakes, rivers and streams. Agencies that are trying........ Read more »

Keeler, B., Wood, S., Polasky, S., Kling, C., Filstrup, C., & Downing, J. (2015) Recreational demand for clean water: evidence from geotagged photographs by visitors to lakes. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, 2147483647. DOI: 10.1890/140124  

  • February 6, 2015
  • 08:34 AM
  • 178 views

Why do we have music? Can one trace the origins of musicality?

by Henkjan Honing in Music Matters

Why do we have music? And what enables us to perceive, appreciate and make music? The search for a possible answer to these and other questions forms the backdrop to a soon-to-be released theme issue of Philosophical Transactions, which deals with the subject of musicality. An initiative of Henkjan Honing, professor of Music Cognition at the University of Amsterdam (UvA), this theme issue will see Honing and fellow researchers present their most important empirical results and offer a joint rese........ Read more »

Honing, H., ten Cate, C., Peretz, I., & Trehub, S. (2015) Without it no music: cognition, biology and evolution of musicality. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 370(1664), 20140088-20140088. DOI: 10.1098/rstb.2014.0088  

Gingras, B., Honing, H., Peretz, I., Trainor, L., & Fisher, S. (2015) Defining the biological bases of individual differences in musicality. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 370(1664), 20140092-20140092. DOI: 10.1098/rstb.2014.0092  

Fitch, W. (2015) Four principles of bio-musicology. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 370(1664), 20140091-20140091. DOI: 10.1098/rstb.2014.0091  

Hoeschele, M., Merchant, H., Kikuchi, Y., Hattori, Y., & ten Cate, C. (2015) Searching for the origins of musicality across species. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 370(1664), 20140094-20140094. DOI: 10.1098/rstb.2014.0094  

  • February 5, 2015
  • 09:10 AM
  • 114 views

Climate Change: Heatwaves and Poverty in Pakistan

by Jalees Rehman in Fragments of Truth

The 2010 floods were among the worst that Pakistan has experienced in recent decades. Sadly, the country is prone to recurrent flooding which means that in any given year, Pakistani farmers hope and pray that the floods will not be as bad as those in 2010. It would be natural to assume that recurring flood disasters force Pakistani farmers to give up farming and migrate to the cities in order to make ends meet. But a recent study published in the journal Nature Climate Change by Valerie Mueller ........ Read more »

  • February 4, 2015
  • 07:04 PM
  • 128 views

How to keep the lights on when the fossil fuels are gone

by Jonathan Trinastic in Goodnight Earth

My second guest post at the Eyes on Environment blog at Nature's Scitable network. Check out how policy and technology will help integrate renewables into the electrical grid.... Read more »

  • February 2, 2015
  • 07:19 PM
  • 163 views

We can predict the chaos in climate change only so well

by Jonathan Trinastic in Goodnight Earth

New analysis in Nature shows that differences in actual and modeled temperature trends are due to natural variability in Earth's climate over short timescales. Read the details here!... Read more »

  • February 2, 2015
  • 10:12 AM
  • 129 views

Melatonin is Not a Magic Pill

by Miss Behavior in The Scorpion and the Frog

European hamsters showed us that there is more to annual body rhythms than melatonin. Image by Agnieszka Szeląg at Wikimedia Commons.Many animals undergo seasonal physiological changes in order to ensure that their babies are born during a time of more abundant food and milder weather and to help their bodies prepare for harsh winter conditions. In order to precisely time these physiological changes with the seasons, most animals have evolved to respond to the most reliable marker for time of y........ Read more »

Monecke, S., Sage-Ciocca, D., Wollnik, F., & Pevet, P. (2013) Photoperiod Can Entrain Circannual Rhythms in Pinealectomized European Hamsters. Journal of Biological Rhythms, 28(4), 278-290. DOI: 10.1177/0748730413498561  

  • February 2, 2015
  • 03:30 AM
  • 136 views

Silent witnesses: investigating wildlife crime in Scotland

by naturallyspeakingpodcast in Naturally Speaking Podcast

Welcome to the latest Naturally Speaking blog post. This post was written by Research Associate Caroline Millins a qualified veterinary pathologist and researcher in wildlife disease epidemiology. Here Caroline describes work that was featured in her most recent research paper, but also gives the broader story to becoming involved in wildlife pathology. Silent witnesses: investigating wildlife crime in Scotland Seeing wildlife […]

... Read more »

Millins, C., Howie, F., Everitt, C., Shand, M., & Lamm, C. (2014) Analysis of suspected wildlife crimes submitted for forensic examinations in Scotland. Forensic Science, Medicine, and Pathology, 10(3), 357-362. DOI: 10.1007/s12024-014-9568-1  

  • February 1, 2015
  • 03:48 PM
  • 168 views

Alternatives to antibiotics in an antibiotic resistant world

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Let’s be honest, we’ve been getting a little fancy with the antibiotics, creating new and more relevant versions of old favorites like penicillin. Truthfully, we are the problem, how many times do we have to drive home the idea that antibiotics are for bacteria, not viruses. It is not all the consumers fault, the Doctors used to hand out antibiotics to placate angry parents of sick children.... Read more »

WHO. (2014) Antimicrobial resistance. World Health Organization . info:other/

Lewis NE, Hixson KK, Conrad TM, Lerman JA, Charusanti P, Polpitiya AD, Adkins JN, Schramm G, Purvine SO, Lopez-Ferrer D.... (2010) Omic data from evolved E. coli are consistent with computed optimal growth from genome-scale models. Molecular systems biology, 390. PMID: 20664636  

Tellería-Orriols JJ, García-Salido A, Varillas D, Serrano-González A, & Casado-Flores J. (2014) TLR2-TLR4/CD14 polymorphisms and predisposition to severe invasive infections by Neisseria meningitidis and Streptococcus pneumoniae. Medicina intensiva / Sociedad Espanola de Medicina Intensiva y Unidades Coronarias, 38(6), 356-62. PMID: 24144680  

Sulakvelidze, A., Alavidze, Z., & Morris, J. (2001) Bacteriophage Therapy. Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, 45(3), 649-659. DOI: 10.1128/AAC.45.3.649-659.2001  

Reardon, S. (2014) Phage therapy gets revitalized. Nature, 510(7503), 15-16. DOI: 10.1038/510015a  

Matsuzaki, S., Uchiyama, J., Takemura-Uchiyama, I., & Daibata, M. (2014) Perspective: The age of the phage. Nature, 509(7498). DOI: 10.1038/509S9a  

Corie Lok. (2001) Antibiotic resistance switched off. Nature. info:/10.1038/news010322-4

  • January 30, 2015
  • 11:30 AM
  • 149 views

City Rabbits, like Humans, Live in Smaller Homes

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish



Imagine you're on a particularly boring leg of a road trip and you start counting houses. You pass through long stretches of country without counting anything. When you do see houses, they're clustered into towns, and may have spacious yards with tire swings. As you approach a city (finally!), rows of houses appear at regular intervals instead of clumping. And in the heart of the city they shrink into little apartments that go by too fast for you to count. European rabbits, it turns out, b........ Read more »

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