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Thursday, October 16, 2014

ScienceDaily: Top Environment News

ScienceDaily: Top Environment News

Informative visit to the toilet, for lemurs

Posted: 15 Oct 2014 06:08 PM PDT

Emily loves Justin, Stop global warming, Two more weeks till I graduate! The exchange of information in public toilets is widespread. It also occurs in the world of white-footed sportive lemurs. Only instead of writing on the walls, they use scent-marks in order to communicate with their own kind. Biologists have found that, in particular, the urine left on latrine trees serves as a method to maintain contact to family members. It also serves as a means to inform an intruder that there is a male that will defend his partner. Latrines serve as information exchange centers and promote social bonding in territorial nocturnal animals that do not live in closely-knit groups.

Could sleeper sharks be preying on protected Steller sea lions?

Posted: 15 Oct 2014 11:33 AM PDT

Pacific sleeper sharks, a large, slow-moving species thought of as primarily a scavenger or predator of fish, may be preying on something a bit larger -- protected Steller sea lions in the Gulf of Alaska. A new study has found the first indirect evidence that this cold-blooded shark that can grow to a length of more than 20 feet -- longer than a great white shark -- and may be an opportunistic predator of juvenile Steller sea lions.

Weather history 'time machine' created

Posted: 15 Oct 2014 11:32 AM PDT

A software program that allows climate researchers to access historical climate data for the entire global surface (excluding the poles) has been developed. This software include the oceans, and is based statistical research into historical climates.

Riddle of the rock pools: How tiny fish camouflage themselves

Posted: 15 Oct 2014 11:31 AM PDT

Researchers have revealed that the rock goby (Gobius paganellus), an unassuming little fish commonly found in rock pools around Britain, southern Europe, and North Africa, is a master of camouflage and can rapidly change color to conceal itself against its background.

Light pollution contributing to fledgling 'fallout': Turning street lights off decreased number of grounded fledglings

Posted: 15 Oct 2014 11:31 AM PDT

Turning the street lights off decreased the number of grounded fledglings, according to a new study. Thousands of birds are attracted to lights-sometimes referred to as light-pollution-every year worldwide during their first flights from their nests to the open ocean, a phenomenon called 'fallout.'

These roos were 'made' for walking, study suggests of extinct enigmas

Posted: 15 Oct 2014 11:31 AM PDT

Based on a rigorous comparative analysis of kangaroo anatomy, researchers posit that the ancient family of sthenurine kangaroos that lived until 30,000 years ago likely preferred walking to hopping.

Global natural gas boom alone won't slow climate change

Posted: 15 Oct 2014 11:28 AM PDT

A new analysis of global energy use, economics and the climate shows that expanding the current bounty of inexpensive natural gas alone would not slow the growth of global greenhouse gas emissions worldwide. Recent advances in gas production technology based on horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing -- also known as fracking -- have led to bountiful, low-cost natural gas. Because gas emits far less carbon dioxide than coal, some researchers have linked the natural gas boom to recent reductions in greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. But could these advanced technologies also have an impact on emissions beyond North America and decades into the future?

Discarded cigarette ashes could go to good use -- removing arsenic from water

Posted: 15 Oct 2014 08:23 AM PDT

Arsenic, a well-known poison, can be taken out of drinking water using sophisticated treatment methods. But in places that lack the equipment or technical know-how required to remove it, it still laces drinking water and makes people sick. To tackle this problem, scientists have come up with a new low-cost, simple way to remove arsenic using leftovers from another known health threat -- cigarettes.

Dolphin 'breathalyzer' could help diagnose animal and ocean health

Posted: 15 Oct 2014 08:23 AM PDT

Alcohol consumption isn't the only thing a breath analysis can reveal. Scientists have been studying its possible use for diagnosing a wide range of conditions in humans -- and now in the beloved bottlenose dolphin. One team describes a new instrument that can analyze the metabolites in breath from dolphins, which have been dying in alarming numbers along the Atlantic coast this year.

Study questions 21-day quarantine period for Ebola

Posted: 15 Oct 2014 08:23 AM PDT

One of the tenets for minimizing the risk of spreading Ebola Virus has been a 21-day quarantine period for individuals who might have been exposed to the virus. But a new study suggests that 21 days might not be enough to completely prevent spread of the virus. Experts say there could be up to a 12 percent chance that someone could be infected even after the 21-day quarantine.

Climate change not responsible for altering forest tree composition, experts say

Posted: 15 Oct 2014 08:23 AM PDT

Change in disturbance regimes -- rather than a change in climate -- is largely responsible for altering the composition of Eastern forests, according to a researcher. Forests in the Eastern United States remain in a state of "disequilibrium" stemming from the clear-cutting and large-scale burning that occurred in the late 1800s and early 1900s, he contends.

Researchers look to exploit females' natural resistance to infection

Posted: 15 Oct 2014 08:23 AM PDT

Researchers have linked increased resistance to bacterial pneumonia in female mice to an enzyme activated by the female sex hormone estrogen. An international team of scientists has shown that increased resistance to bacterial pneumonia in female mice is linked to the enzyme nitric oxide synthase 3 (NOS3). They also show that this enzyme is ultimately activated by the release of the female sex hormone estrogen.

Researchers turn to 3-D technology to examine the formation of cliffband landscapes

Posted: 15 Oct 2014 08:23 AM PDT

A blend of photos and technology takes a new twist on studying cliff landscapes and how they were formed.

Key moment mapped in assembly of DNA-splitting molecular machine

Posted: 15 Oct 2014 08:21 AM PDT

Scientists reveal crucial steps and surprising structures in the genesis of the enzyme that divides the DNA double helix during cell replication. The research combined electron microscopy, perfectly distilled proteins, and a method of chemical freezing to isolate specific moments at the start of replication.

Researcher adds to evidence linking autism to air pollutants

Posted: 15 Oct 2014 08:21 AM PDT

Pollution's impact on autism rates in North Carolina is similar to results of previous pollution autism studies in California, a new study reports. This report is has added to a growing body of evidence that links autism to air pollutants such as those generated by cars and trucks.

Carbonate rocks are unrecognized methane sink

Posted: 15 Oct 2014 07:18 AM PDT

Since the first undersea methane seep was discovered 30 years ago, scientists have meticulously analyzed and measured how microbes in the seafloor sediments consume the greenhouse gas methane. They have now found a type of rock known as authigenic carbonate also contains vast amounts of active microbes that take up methane. This demonstrates that the global methane process is still poorly understood.

A unique approach to monitoring groundwater supplies near Ohio fracking sites

Posted: 15 Oct 2014 07:18 AM PDT

As fracking expands in Ohio, University of Cincinnati researchers are expanding their testing of private water wells. Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, involves using millions of gallons of water mixed with sand and chemicals to break up organic-rich shale to release natural gas resources.

Prehistoric crocodiles' evolution mirrored in living species

Posted: 15 Oct 2014 07:17 AM PDT

Crocodiles which roamed the world's seas millions of years ago developed in similar ways to their modern-day relatives, a study has shown. Fresh research into a group of prehistoric marine crocs known as Machimosaurus reveals key details of how and where they lived.

Food labels can reduce livestock environmental impacts, study shows

Posted: 15 Oct 2014 07:17 AM PDT

With global food demand expected to outpace the availability of water by the year 2050, consumers can make a big difference in reducing the water used in livestock production. A new study shows that meat packers and retailers can play a key role in creating incentives for water-saving livestock production with labels that appeal to consumer values.

Chimpanzees have favorite 'tool set' for hunting staple food of army ants

Posted: 15 Oct 2014 07:17 AM PDT

New research shows that chimpanzees search for the right tools from a key plant species when preparing to 'ant dip' -- a crafty technique enabling them to feast on army ants without getting bitten. The study shows that army ants are not a poor substitute for preferred foods, but a staple part of chimpanzee diets.

Importance of dead jellyfish to deep-sea ecosystems

Posted: 15 Oct 2014 07:15 AM PDT

Dead jellyfish contribute to the deep-sea food chain, unlike previously thought, innovative experiments show. Researchers deployed lander systems to look at how scavengers responded to jellyfish and fish baits in the deep sea off Norway. The experiments were carried out in areas with jellyfish blooms near the ocean surface and showed that when the creatures fell to the seabed they were rapidly eaten by scavengers.

Sharks that hide in coral reefs may be safe from acidifying oceans

Posted: 15 Oct 2014 07:15 AM PDT

The epaulette shark displays physiological tolerance to elevated carbon dioxide in its environment after being exposed to carbon dioxide levels equivalent to those that are predicted for their natural habitats in the near future.

Lake Erie increasingly susceptible to large cyanobacteria blooms

Posted: 15 Oct 2014 07:15 AM PDT

Lake Erie has become increasingly susceptible to large blooms of toxin-producing cyanobacteria since 2002, potentially complicating efforts to rein in the problem in the wake of this year's Toledo drinking water crisis, according to a new study.

Ancient fossils of bizarre figure-eight water creatures confirmed among our strangest distant cousins

Posted: 15 Oct 2014 07:13 AM PDT

More than 100 years since they were first discovered, some of the world's most bizarre fossils have been identified as close relatives of vertebrates. The fossils belong to 500-million-year-old blind water creatures, known as "vetulicolians". Alien-like in appearance, these marine creatures were "filter-feeders" shaped like a figure eight. In a new paper, researchers argue for a change in the way these creatures are viewed, placing them with the same group that includes vertebrate animals, such as humans.

Buy local firewood to prevent spread of invasive beetle, forest service says

Posted: 15 Oct 2014 07:13 AM PDT

An invasive beetle has spread to 22 states and could kill millions of Ash trees. A forest health specialist encourages the use of local firewood to prevent the spread of Emerald Ash Borer.

Archaeological glass artefacts shed new light on Swedish glass history

Posted: 15 Oct 2014 06:04 AM PDT

Archaeological finds of glass material from Old Lödöse, a Swedish trade center in the High Middle Ages, call for a revision of the country's glass history. New research describes how vitrified finds can be interpreted.

Method for detecting extremely rare inert gas isotopes for water dating

Posted: 15 Oct 2014 06:04 AM PDT

In earth and environmental sciences, radioactive isotopes, atom variants that decay over time, play a major role in age determination. A radioactive isotope of the inert gas argon 39, for example, is used to determine the age of water or ice. Such isotopes are extremely rare, however -- only a single 39 Ar isotope occurs in a thousand trillion argon atoms. Hence researchers' attempts to isolate and detect such atoms remain the proverbial search for the needle in a haystack. Physicists have now succeeded in rendering usable an experimental method developed in basic research for ground water dating using 39 Ar.

Effects of high-risk Parkinson's mutation are reversible, study in animal model suggests

Posted: 15 Oct 2014 06:04 AM PDT

Researchers have found vital new evidence on how to target and reverse the effects caused by one of the most common genetic causes of Parkinson's.

Collapsible wings help birds cope with turbulence, eagle sporting 'black box' shows

Posted: 14 Oct 2014 06:18 PM PDT

Collapsible wings may be a bird's answer to turbulence, according to a new study in which an eagle carried its own 'black box' flight recorder on its back.

What goes up must come down: Geckos alter foot orientation during downhill locomotion

Posted: 14 Oct 2014 06:18 PM PDT

Geckos employ an adhesive system that facilitates their climbing vertically, and even in inverted positions. But can geckos employ this system when moving downhill? Biologists have conducted lab experiments on geckos to find that when moving on steep downhill surfaces geckos reverse the position of their hind feet to potentially use the adhesive system as a brake and/or stabilizer, resulting in the digits of the hind feet facing backwards.

How the fruit fly could help us sniff out drugs and bombs

Posted: 14 Oct 2014 06:18 PM PDT

A fly's sense of smell could be used in new technology to detect drugs and bombs, new research has found. Brain scientists were surprised to find that the 'nose' of fruit flies can identify odors from illicit drugs and explosive substances almost as accurately as wine odor, which the insects are naturally attracted to because it smells like their favorite food, fermenting fruit.

Caribbean coral reef inhabitants critical in determining future of reefs

Posted: 14 Oct 2014 06:17 PM PDT

Species that live in and erode coral reefs will play a major role in determining the future of reefs, new research suggests. The research highlights the delicate balance that exists between bioerosion and carbonate production on coral reefs.

Hydraulic fracturing linked to earthquakes in Ohio

Posted: 14 Oct 2014 06:17 PM PDT

Hydraulic fracturing triggered a series of small earthquakes in 2013 on a previously unmapped fault in Harrison County, Ohio, according to a new study.

Past climate change and continental ice melt linked to varying carbon dioxide levels

Posted: 14 Oct 2014 06:17 PM PDT

Scientists have discovered that a globally warm period in Earth's geological past featured highly variable levels of CO2. Previous studies have found that the Miocene climatic optimum, a period that extends from about 15 to 17 million years ago, was associated with big changes in both temperature and the amount of continental ice on the planet. Now a new study has found that these changes in temperature and ice volume were matched by equally dramatic shifts in atmospheric CO2.

Energy drinks may pose danger to public health, researchers warn

Posted: 14 Oct 2014 02:07 PM PDT

Increased consumption of energy drinks may pose danger to public health, especially among young people, warns a team of researchers. Energy drinks are non-alcoholic beverages that contain caffeine, vitamins, and sometimes other ingredients such as taurine, ginseng, and guarana. They are typically marketed as boosting energy and increasing physical and mental performance.

Potential drug could ease impact of bacterial lung infections in cystic fibrosis patients, tests suggest

Posted: 14 Oct 2014 12:25 PM PDT

By screening over 2,000 approved drugs and natural products, scientists have shown that tannic acid may help ease the impact of bacterial lung infections in cystic fibrosis patients. Tests completed using experimentally modified frog oocytes show that tannic acid counteracts the harmful effect of an enzyme produced by the bacterium Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus). However, more research is needed to find out if tannic acid can help treat S. aureus infections in humans.

Want whiter teeth? Fruit mixture is not the answer

Posted: 14 Oct 2014 09:37 AM PDT

It may seem like an all-natural way to whiten teeth, but a study shows that a strawberry and baking soda mixture does little beyond cleaning those choppers. The main reason: Strawberries lack the chemicals known to cause deeper, longer lasting teeth whitening, researchers say.

Protein found in insect blood helps power pests' immune responses

Posted: 14 Oct 2014 06:47 AM PDT

By studying a protein called beta-1,3-glucan recognition protein in the blood of a caterpillar, researchers have found a genetic mechanism that may help trigger an insect's immune system into killing pathogens in the insect's blood.

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