Πέμπτη, 3 Ιουλίου 2014

ScienceDaily: Top Environment News

ScienceDaily: Top Environment News

Desert design ... scorpions are master architects

Posted: 02 Jul 2014 05:38 PM PDT

Scientists have discovered that scorpions design their burrows to include both hot and cold spots. A long platform provides a sunny place to warm up before they hunt, whilst a humid chamber acts as a cool refuge during the heat of the day.

The plant that only grows when the going's good…

Posted: 02 Jul 2014 05:38 PM PDT

Scientists have identified a new mutant plant that accumulates excessive amounts of starch, which could help to boost crop yields and increase the productivity of plants grown for biofuels.

Lights out… light pollution alters reproduction cycle in lemurs

Posted: 02 Jul 2014 05:38 PM PDT

Besides obscuring the stars, light pollution can also disrupt the reproduction of light-sensitive animals. Scientists have shown that light pollution can override the natural reproductive cycle of some animals, making them sexually active out of season.

Polyphenols could yield small benefit for people with PAD

Posted: 02 Jul 2014 02:00 PM PDT

Polyphenols -- compounds found in cocoa and other foods -- may help people with peripheral artery disease walk a little longer and farther before pain sets in. More research is needed to see whether long-term use of these compounds in dark chocolate can improve circulation and aid patients.

Genetic study reveals vulnerability of northwest dolphins

Posted: 02 Jul 2014 12:14 PM PDT

A new study estimating population genetic structure of little-known dolphins inhabiting Western Australia's north coast highlights vulnerability.

Hair from mummy's clothes provides insights into red deer lineage

Posted: 02 Jul 2014 12:14 PM PDT

Genetic analysis of Neolithic deer hair from Italian Alps mummy's clothes ties deer population to modern day western European lineage, in contrast to the eastern lineage found in the Italian alps today.

New species of spider wasp may use chemical signals from dead ants to protect nest

Posted: 02 Jul 2014 12:14 PM PDT

A new species of spider wasp, the 'Bone-house Wasp,' may use chemical cues from dead ants as a nest protection strategy. Wasps use a wide variety of nest protection strategies, including digging holes or occupying pre-existing cavities such as in wood.

Die-offs of band-tailed pigeons connected to newly discovered parasite

Posted: 02 Jul 2014 11:06 AM PDT

A new parasite, along with one possibly found in T-Rex, has been implicated in the recent deaths of thousands of Pacific Coast band-tailed pigeons. Avian trichomonosis is an emerging and potentially fatal disease that creates severe lesions that can block the esophagus, ultimately preventing the bird from eating or drinking, or the trachea, leading to suffocation. The disease may date back to when dinosaurs roamed the earth, as lesions indicative of trichomonosis were found recently in T-Rex skeletons.

Extinct human cousin gave Tibetans advantage at high elevation

Posted: 02 Jul 2014 10:17 AM PDT

Several thousand years ago, the common ancestors of Han Chinese and Tibetans moved onto the Tibetan plateau, a low-oxygen environment that probably proved fatal to many because of early heart disease and high infant mortality. But a specific variant of a gene for hemoglobin regulation, picked up from earlier interbreeding with a mysterious human-like species, Denisovans, gradually spread through the Tibetan population, allowing them to live longer and healthier and avoid cardiovascular problems.

Boron tolerance discovery for higher wheat yields

Posted: 02 Jul 2014 10:16 AM PDT

The genes in wheat that control tolerance to a significant yield-limiting soil condition found around the globe – boron toxicity -- have been identified by researchers. They say that in soils where boron toxicity is reducing yields, genetic improvement of crops is the only effective strategy to address the problem.

A case study of manta rays and lagoons

Posted: 02 Jul 2014 09:25 AM PDT

Doug McCauley chose one of the most isolated places in the world, Palmyra Atoll, to study the ecology of the Manta alfredi. About halfway between Hawaii and American Samoa, this complex of small islands and inlets in the central Pacific is surrounded by more than 15,000 acres of coral reefs and encircles three lagoons.

Fruit fly research may reveal what happens in female brains during courtship, mating

Posted: 02 Jul 2014 09:24 AM PDT

What are the complex processes in the brain involved with choosing a mate, and are these processes different in females versus males? It's difficult to study such questions in people, but researchers are finding clues in fruit flies that might be relevant to humans and other animals.

Deforestation remedies can have unintended consequences

Posted: 02 Jul 2014 09:22 AM PDT

When it comes to fixing deforestation and forest degradation, good intentions can lead to bad outcomes. Among other points, researchers note that even when there's technically no net deforestation, tropical forests can still suffer. For example, if degraded natural forests are replaced by plantations of invasive exotic trees or low water-use efficiency trees, biodiversity will diminish, wildlife could suffer and soil erosion could render streams unusable by local villagers.

Upending a cancer dogma: Cyclin D, long believed to promote cancer, actually activates tumor suppressor

Posted: 02 Jul 2014 09:22 AM PDT

A protein essential to regulating cell cycle progression – the process of cell division and replication – activates a key tumor suppressor, rather than inactivating it as previously thought, researchers report. The findings fundamentally change the understanding of G1 cell cycle regulation and the molecular origins of many associated cancers.

'Green buildings' have potential to improve health of low-income housing residents

Posted: 02 Jul 2014 08:10 AM PDT

The 'green building' trend is often associated with helping the environment by using eco-friendly materials and energy-saving techniques, but these practices are designed to improve people's health, too. Now scientists are reporting evidence that they can indeed help people feel better, including those living in low-income housing.

Squid sucker ring teeth material could aid reconstructive surgery, serve as eco-packaging

Posted: 02 Jul 2014 08:10 AM PDT

Squid tentacles are loaded with hundreds of suction cups, or suckers, and each sucker has a ring of razor-sharp 'teeth' that help these mighty predators latch onto and take down prey. Researchers report that the proteins in these teeth could form the basis for a new generation of strong, but malleable, materials that could someday be used for reconstructive surgery, eco-friendly packaging and many other applications.

Putting a price tag on the 2 degree Celsius climate target

Posted: 02 Jul 2014 08:10 AM PDT

Addressing climate change will require substantial new investment in low-carbon energy and energy efficiency -- but no more than what is currently spent on today's fossil-dominated energy system, according to new research. To limit climate change to 2 degrees Celsius, low-carbon energy options will need additional investments of about US $800 billion a year globally from now to mid-century, according to a new study.

Japanese gold leaf artists worked on a nanoscale: X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy is a non-destructive way to date artwork

Posted: 02 Jul 2014 08:09 AM PDT

Ancient Japanese gold leaf artists were truly masters of their craft. An analysis of six ancient Namban paper screens show that these artifacts are gilded with gold leaf that was hand-beaten to the nanometer scale. Researchers believe that the X-ray fluorescence technique they used in the analysis could also be used to date other artworks without causing any damage to them.

NASA launches carbon mission to watch Earth breathe

Posted: 02 Jul 2014 07:30 AM PDT

NASA successfully launched its first spacecraft dedicated to studying atmospheric carbon dioxide on July 1, 2014. OCO-2 soon will begin a minimum two-year mission to locate Earth's sources of and storage places for atmospheric carbon dioxide, the leading human-produced greenhouse gas responsible for warming our world, and a critical component of the planet's carbon cycle.

Fine-scale climate model projections predict malaria at local levels

Posted: 02 Jul 2014 07:24 AM PDT

Fine-scale climate model projections suggest the possibility that population centers in cool, highland regions of East Africa could be more vulnerable to malaria than previously thought, while population centers in hot, lowland areas could be less vulnerable, according to a team of researchers. The team applied a statistical technique to conventional, coarse-scale climate models to better predict malaria dynamics at local levels.

Flood fear has temporary effect on property prices

Posted: 02 Jul 2014 07:24 AM PDT

The stigma of buying in a flood-prone suburb after the 2011 Brisbane floods was short-lived for middle and high-value homes with property prices rebounding within 12-months, a new study has found.

Dramatic decline of Caribbean corals can be reversed: Stop killing parrotfish to bring back Caribbean coral reefs

Posted: 02 Jul 2014 06:36 AM PDT

With only about one-sixth of the original coral cover left, most Caribbean coral reefs may disappear in the next 20 years, primarily due to the loss of grazers in the region, according to a new report. The results show that the Caribbean corals have declined by more than 50% since the 1970s.

How does your garden grow? 3-D root imaging in real time

Posted: 01 Jul 2014 04:32 PM PDT

Growing plants in a microscope is helping scientists to view roots developing in 3-D and in real time. Scientists already know that lateral roots in plants develop from cells deep within the main root, so that the emerging roots must force through multiple layers of tissue to reach the soil. Until now, capturing the cell-division events behind this process has proved exceptionally difficult.

A sheep's early life experiences can shape behavior in later life

Posted: 01 Jul 2014 04:32 PM PDT

New research has found that a sheep's experiences soon after birth can shape its later behavior and also that of its offspring. Scientists investigated whether early-life experiences can alter behavioral responses to a naturally painful event in adulthood -- giving birth -- and also affect behavior of the next generation.

Smarter than you think: Fish can remember where they were fed 12 days later

Posted: 01 Jul 2014 04:32 PM PDT

It is popularly believed that fish have a memory span of only 30 seconds. Canadian scientists, however, have demonstrated that this is far from true -- in fact, fish can remember context and associations up to 12 days later.

Locusts harness the sun to get their optimum diet

Posted: 01 Jul 2014 04:32 PM PDT

If you are a locust, the most nutritious plant to eat depends on the ambient temperature. Scientists have discovered that locusts choose their food and then where they digest it according to how hot it is.

Dairy farmers keep flies guessing by alternating pesticides

Posted: 01 Jul 2014 11:55 AM PDT

Old-fashioned fly swatters may be the most foolproof housefly killer, but for dairy farms, insecticides are the practical choice. Flies spread disease and a host of pathogens that cost farms hundreds of millions of dollars in annual losses. Unfortunately, with the repeated use of the same insecticides, flies develop resistance through genetic mutations that make these products less effective. Entomologists analyzed levels of resistance to six insecticides in flies, and have identified the mutations that led to resistance in houseflies and from cattle farms.

For cancer patients, sugar-coated cells are deadly

Posted: 01 Jul 2014 11:55 AM PDT

Every living cell's surface has a protein-embedded membrane that's covered in polysaccharide chains – a literal sugar coating. A new study found this coating is especially thick and pronounced on cancer cells – leading to a more lethal cancer. "Changes to the sugar composition on the cell surface could alter physically how receptors are organized," one researcher said. "That's really the big thing: coupling the regulation of the sugar coating to these biochemical signaling molecules."

Hibernating frogs give clues to halting muscle wastage

Posted: 30 Jun 2014 04:34 PM PDT

Key genes that help burrowing frogs avoid muscle wastage while they are dormant have been discovered by researchers. These genetic insights could help prevent muscle atrophy in bedridden human patients, or even astronauts. For most mammals, including humans, when muscles are inactive over a long period, they lose condition and waste away. However, some animals can remain dormant for several months and yet suffer minimal muscle damage, including green-striped burrowing frogs, the focus of this study.

Climate change could stop fish finding their friends

Posted: 30 Jun 2014 04:34 PM PDT

Like humans, fish prefer to group with individuals with whom they are familiar, rather than strangers. This gives numerous benefits including higher growth and survival rates, greater defense against predators and faster social learning. However, high carbon dioxide levels, such as those anticipated by climate change models, may hinder the ability of fish to recognize one another and form groups with familiar individuals.

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