Kamis, 21 Mei 2015

ScienceDaily: Top Environment News

ScienceDaily: Top Environment News

Nicotinoid, fungal disease team up to break down termites' tough defenses

Posted: 20 May 2015 04:41 PM PDT

A small amount of nicotinoid pesticide substantially weakens termites' ability to fight off fungal diseases, researchers report. This is a finding that could lead to more effective methods of pest control, they say.

Seeing without eyes: Octopus's skin possesses the same cellular mechanism for detecting light as its eyes do

Posted: 20 May 2015 04:39 PM PDT

The skin of the California two-spot octopus can sense light even without input from the central nervous system. The animal does so by using the same family of light-sensitive proteins called opsins found in its eyes -- a process not previously described for cephalopods.

International study reveals that cold weather kills far more people than hot weather

Posted: 20 May 2015 04:38 PM PDT

Cold weather kills 20 times as many people as hot weather, according to an international study analyzing over 74 million deaths in 384 locations across 13 countries. The findings also reveal that deaths due to moderately hot or cold weather substantially exceed those resulting from extreme heat waves or cold spells.

Surviving harsh environments becomes a death-trap for specialist corals

Posted: 20 May 2015 04:35 PM PDT

The success of corals that adapt to survive in the world's hottest sea could contribute to their demise through global warming, according to new research.

Arctic ducks combine nutrients from wintering, breeding grounds to grow healthy eggs

Posted: 20 May 2015 01:03 PM PDT

It takes a lot of nutrients to build an egg. One of the big questions among researchers who study the eggs of migratory birds is where those nutrients come from -- does the mother make the egg directly out of what she eats during the breeding season, or does she save up nutrients consumed on her wintering grounds? The answer appears to be both for Common Eiders, large, sea-going ducks that breed in the Arctic.

Drinking chamomile decreases risk of death in older Mexican American women

Posted: 20 May 2015 01:03 PM PDT

Drinking chamomile tea was associated with a decreased risk of death from all causes in Mexican-American American women over 65, a new study has shown. Chamomile is one of the oldest, most-widely used and well-documented medicinal plants in the world and has been recommended for a variety of healing applications. It is currently widely used as an herbal remedy in Mexico and among Mexican-Americans.

Deepwater Horizon oil spill contributed to high number of Gulf dolphin deaths

Posted: 20 May 2015 12:16 PM PDT

As part of an unusual mortality event investigation, a team of scientists has discovered that dead bottlenose dolphins stranded in the northern Gulf of Mexico since the start of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill have lung and adrenal lesions consistent with petroleum product exposure.

First dinosaur fossil discovered in Washington state

Posted: 20 May 2015 12:16 PM PDT

Paleontologists have published a description of the first dinosaur fossil from Washington state. The fossil was collected along the shores of Sucia Island State Park in the San Juan Islands.

Male Java sparrows may 'drum' to their songs

Posted: 20 May 2015 12:16 PM PDT

Male Java sparrows may coordinate their bill-clicking sounds with the notes of their song. Birds may communicate using both vocalizations and movement, as for instance occurs during courtship displays, but scientists' understanding of how they coordinate their movements with the sounds they produce is limited. To further investigate birds' communicative and musical abilities, the authors of this study looked into the vocalizations and bill sounds associated with singing in the Java sparrow, a song bird.

Peat moss, a necessary bane

Posted: 20 May 2015 12:15 PM PDT

The temperature balance on Earth may be dependent on a conspicuous creation that sours life for everyone around, guzzles more than a sponge and produces lots of offspring that behave likewise. And you thought your neighbors were bad.

Colorado's biggest storms can happen any time, study shows

Posted: 20 May 2015 11:07 AM PDT

In a state known for its dramatic weather and climate, Colorado's history of extreme precipitation varies considerably by season and location, according to a new study. Decision makers -- often facing increased pressure to consider climate change information -- typically turn to historical averages to understand when and where extreme rain, hail and snow happen in the state. But those averages often are not reliable because they're based on observations of events that don't happen frequently and because the observations themselves are limited, especially in remote areas, researchers say.

Scientists tackle mystery of thunderstorms that strike at night

Posted: 20 May 2015 11:06 AM PDT

From June 1 through July 15, researchers from across North America will fan out each evening across the Great Plains to study the mysterious phenomenon of nighttime thunderstorms.

Study reveals how eastern US forests came to be

Posted: 20 May 2015 10:46 AM PDT

Spring visitors to Great Smoky Mountains or the Blue Ridge Parkway will see ridges and valleys covered in flowering mountain laurels, rhododendrons, tulip poplars, dogwoods, black locusts and silverbell trees. A new study of nearly all the trees and shrubs in the southern Appalachians suggests that roughly half of the species can trace their relatives to thousands of miles away in Asia. Most of the rest likely arose within North America, the researchers say.

World's oldest stone tools challenge ideas about first toolmakers

Posted: 20 May 2015 10:35 AM PDT

Scientists working in the desert of northwestern Kenya have found stone tools dating back 3.3 million years, long before the advent of modern humans, and by far the oldest such artifacts yet discovered. The tools push the known date of such tools back by 700,000 years; they also may challenge the notion that our own most direct ancestors were the first to bang two rocks together to create a new technology.

Severe weather may be linked to Arctic warming

Posted: 20 May 2015 09:28 AM PDT

New evidence has linked Arctic warming with severe weather in countries including the UK and US. The studies are adding to the growing weight of evidence linking increased Arctic temperatures with changes in mid-latitude weather patterns.

American energy use up slightly, carbon emissions almost unchanged

Posted: 20 May 2015 09:28 AM PDT

Americans' energy use continued to grow slowly in 2014, fueled by increases in the use of natural gas, wind and solar, according to the most recent energy flow charts.

Study pinpoints the likeliest rodent sources of future human infectious diseases

Posted: 20 May 2015 09:28 AM PDT

Researchers have developed a way to predict which species of rodents are likeliest to be sources of new disease outbreaks in humans. The findings could help public health officials take a more preemptive approach to disease surveillance, prevention and control.

Metal pollutants in earthworms may threaten forest predators, study finds

Posted: 20 May 2015 09:28 AM PDT

Invasive earthworms in New England's forests are absorbing toxic metal pollutants in potentially hazardous levels that may be contributing to a decline in birds, amphibians and mammals that feed on them, a study finds.

Natural gas versus diesel: Examining the climate impacts of natural gas trucks

Posted: 20 May 2015 08:43 AM PDT

Some major trucking companies are turning to natural gas to fuel their fleets -- and to earn 'green' credit among customers. But celebrating lower emissions could be premature, according to a recent analysis. Researchers have found that converting heavy-duty trucks to run on natural gas could lead to negative climate impacts if steps are not taken to improve engine efficiency and reduce methane emissions from the fuel's supply chain.

One simple molecule regulates sexual behavior in Drosophila

Posted: 20 May 2015 08:42 AM PDT

Until now researchers have failed to identify the specific pheromone in Drosophila melanogaster that leads to mating success. Although the pheromones that inhibit mating in Drosophila were known, the positive pheromone signal that elicits courtship behavior and mating remained a mystery. Scientists have succeeded in identifying the molecule that regulates complex mating behavior in vinegar flies: a fatty acid methyl ester called methyl laurate.

Bats treated for white nose syndrome released in wild: New optimism

Posted: 20 May 2015 08:42 AM PDT

Biologists have expressed cautious optimism about a possible treatment for White-nose Syndrome (WNS). They have now released bats that had WNS last fall but were successfully treated during a field trial over the past winter.

Ultrasonic production of skimmed milk

Posted: 20 May 2015 08:40 AM PDT

Scientists have demonstrated cream separation from natural whole milk at liter-scales for the first time using ultrasonic standing waves -- a novel, fast and nondestructive separation technique typically used only in small-scale settings.

Air quality effects of natural gas extraction detected in PA's Marcellus Shale region

Posted: 20 May 2015 07:04 AM PDT

Environmental engineers have taken a closer look at the air quality effects of natural gas extraction in the Marcellus Shale region of Pennsylvania. The group used a mobile air quality monitoring vehicle to survey regional air quality and pollutant emissions at 13 sites including wells, drilling rigs, compressor stations and processing areas. Their work establishes baseline measurements for this relatively new area of extraction.

Natural plant chemicals could help fight tooth decay, study shows

Posted: 20 May 2015 07:00 AM PDT

Oral-care products containing a natural chemical that stops bacteria harming teeth could help prevent decay, a study suggests. The plant natural product acts against harmful mouth bacteria and could improve oral health by helping to prevent the build-up of plaque, researchers say.

What happens inside a membrane? Novel method to watch ion channels in action (and much more)

Posted: 20 May 2015 07:00 AM PDT

Little is known about how the proteins forming ion channels -- the 'pores' on the cell membrane -- change when they open and close, especially the portion that is 'embedded' in the membrane. Scientists have invented a method, based on the combined and innovative use of known techniques, which allowed them to observe in detail a specific membrane protein and its structural changes.

Animals' presence may ease social anxiety in kids with autism

Posted: 20 May 2015 07:00 AM PDT

When animals are present, children with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) have lower readings on a device that detects anxiety and other forms of social arousal when interacting with their peers. According to a study, companion animals -- like dogs, cats or the guinea pigs in the study --may prove to be a helpful addition to treatment programs designed to help children with ASDs improve their social skills and interactions with other people.

Who left the dogs out? No trace of ancient colonizers' canines in Madagascar

Posted: 20 May 2015 05:33 AM PDT

Their migration spanned half the globe and their culture was spread across the Pacific and Indian Oceans; but in Madagascar, the ancient Indonesians left behind a mystery.

The Mediterranean sea: From ocean to lake

Posted: 20 May 2015 05:33 AM PDT

Following the European colonization of North Africa and Asia Minor, the Mediterranean shores and islands were more closely connected than ever before through steamships, railways and telegraph wires. However, that did not result in the desired peace between Orient and Occident.

Mountain gorilla mamas sidestep having inbred offspring

Posted: 20 May 2015 05:32 AM PDT

Some mountain gorilla females linger into adulthood in the group into which they were born. In the process, they also remain in the company of their father, who is often their group's dominant male. To curb inbreeding, though, they appear to tactically avoid mating with their fathers. This strategy works so well that the chances of alpha gorilla males siring the offspring of their own daughters are effectively zero, according to new research.

Clever fish around the coast of Mallorca Island avoid fishing lines

Posted: 20 May 2015 05:31 AM PDT

To avoid overfishing and aid in sustainable exploitation, the status of the fish stocks has to be monitored regularly. In many cases stock assessment is based on fishery-dependent data generated from fish markets or creel surveys. The assumption is: the lower the catches in a certain unit of time, the smaller the stock of fish should be. Biologists have now shown that some fish species show enhanced gear-avoidance behavior in regions with high angling intensity compared to fish exposed to low levels of exploitation near marine protected areas.

Sensory differences and the 'evolutionary arms race' between predators and prey

Posted: 19 May 2015 06:02 PM PDT

Across the animal world, many species use communication signals, including mating calls by males, but conspicuous calling can be risky because eavesdropping predators use these calls to find prey. A new eavesdropping study of bats and katydids provides evidence that sensory differences can influence the 'evolutionary arms race' between predators and prey.

Bugs and slugs ideal houseguests for seagrass health

Posted: 19 May 2015 03:22 PM PDT

A simultaneous experiment spanning 15 sites across the Northern Hemisphere shows biodiversity is as important as reducing fertilizer runoff for valuable seagrass ecosystems. The results of the study support that comprehensive coastal management should consider how to maintain robust populations of animals in addition to managing for the more conspicuous effects of pollution and disturbance.

Drought-induced tree mortality accelerating in forests

Posted: 19 May 2015 03:22 PM PDT

Drought and heat-induced tree mortality is accelerating in many forest biomes as a consequence of a warming climate, researchers report. To predict characteristics of plants that will survive and die during drought in future warmer climates, scientists used Darcy's Law, a core principle of vascular plant physiology. Darcy's Law is an equation that describes the flow of liquid through a porous medium, which is how trees take in water.

Nature inspires first artificial molecular pump

Posted: 19 May 2015 09:22 AM PDT

Using nature for inspiration, scientists have developed an entirely artificial molecular pump, in which molecules pump other molecules. The machine mimics the pumping mechanism of proteins that move small molecules around living cells to metabolize and store energy from food. The pump draws its power from chemical reactions, driving molecules step-by-step from a low-energy state to a high-energy state. The pump one day might be used to power other molecular machines, such as artificial muscles, researchers say.

Scientists zero in on brown dog tick control

Posted: 19 May 2015 09:18 AM PDT

Brown Dog Ticks can drive homeowners and their canines to extreme measures. But new research may help alleviate the problem: homeowners can use pesticides to control the ticks, but "the vacuum is your best friend," the researchers say.
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