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Thursday, October 2, 2014

ScienceDaily: Top Environment News

ScienceDaily: Top Environment News

Understanding Greenland Ice Sheet's meltwater channels

Posted: 01 Oct 2014 03:59 PM PDT

Observations of moulins (vertical conduits connecting water on top of the glacier down to the bed of the ice sheet) and boreholes in Greenland show that subglacial channels ameliorate the speedup caused by water delivery to the base of the ice sheet in the short term. By mid summer, however, the channels stabilize and are unable to grow any larger.

Hypertension risk rises closer to major roadways

Posted: 01 Oct 2014 03:57 PM PDT

In a newly published analysis, the risk of high blood pressure among 5,400 post-menopausal women was higher the closer they lived to a major roadway. The result, which accounts for a wide variety of possible confounding factors, adds to concerns that traffic exposure may present public health risks.

Spiders: Survival of the fittest group

Posted: 01 Oct 2014 03:44 PM PDT

Researchers have uncovered the first-ever field-based evidence for a biological mechanism called 'group selection' contributing to local adaptation in natural populations. Evolutionary theorists have been debating the existence and power of group selection for decades. Now two scientists have observed it in the wild.

First diagnosed case of Ebola in the U.S.: What now?

Posted: 01 Oct 2014 12:44 PM PDT

A patient being treated at a Dallas hospital is the first person to be diagnosed with Ebola in the United States, health officials announced yesterday. Now that the first case has been reported, what does this all mean for the rest of the country, and what types of precautions should Americans take?

Gut bacteria are protected by host during illness

Posted: 01 Oct 2014 10:34 AM PDT

To protect their gut microbes during illness, sick mice produce specialized sugars in the gut that feed their microbiota and maintain a healthy microbial balance. This protective mechanism also appears to help resist or tolerate additional harmful pathogens, and its disruption may play a role in human diseases such as Crohn's disease.

Coral reef winners and losers as water temperatures rise

Posted: 01 Oct 2014 10:32 AM PDT

Contrary to the popular research-based assumption that the world's coral reefs are doomed, a new longitudinal study paints a brighter picture of how corals may fare in the future. A subset of present coral fauna will likely populate oceans as water temperatures continue to rise, researchers have reported.

Predicting impact of climate change on species that can't get out of the way

Posted: 01 Oct 2014 10:31 AM PDT

When scientists talk about the consequences of climate change, it can mean more than how we human beings will be impacted by higher temperatures, rising seas and serious storms. Plants and trees are also feeling the change, but they can't move out of the way. Researchers have developed a new tool to overcome a major challenge of predicting how organisms may respond to climate change.

Genetic secrets of the monarch butterfly revealed

Posted: 01 Oct 2014 10:30 AM PDT

Sequencing the genomes of monarch butterflies from around the world, a team of scientists has made surprising new insights into the monarch's genetics. They identified a single gene that appears central to migration -- a behavior generally regarded as complex -- and another that controls pigmentation. The researchers also shed light on the evolutionary origins of the monarch.

Giving botox a safer facelift: Structures of botulinum neurotoxins studied

Posted: 01 Oct 2014 10:30 AM PDT

New insights into botulinum neurotoxins and their interactions with cells are moving scientists ever closer to safer forms of Botox and a better understanding of the dangerous disease known as botulism. By comparing all known structures of botulinum neurotoxins, researchers suggest new ways to improve the safety and efficacy of Botox injections.

Support for controversial Darwin theory of 'jump dispersal'

Posted: 01 Oct 2014 07:27 AM PDT

More than one hundred and fifty years ago, Charles Darwin hypothesized that species could cross oceans and other vast distances on vegetation rafts, icebergs, or in the case of plant seeds, in the plumage of birds. Though many were skeptical of Darwin's 'jump dispersal' idea, a new study suggests that Darwin might have been correct.

Nature collides with James Bond: Newly discovered ant species hides in plain sight

Posted: 01 Oct 2014 07:26 AM PDT

A new species of ant has been discovered that uses social parasitism to access host ant species' food sources and foraging trails: Cephalotes specularis, commonly known as the mirror turtle ant. Mirror turtle ants are the first-known ant species to use visual mimicry to parasitize another ant species. They have mastered the movements of C. ampla and are careful to dodge the host ants to avoid them detecting C. specularis' scent. By mimicking C. ampla, the mirror turtle ants can access their food and follow their foraging trails to food sources. In spy terms, this new form of social parasitism allows ants to steal food from an enemy.

Dog waste contaminates our waterways: A new test could reveal how big the problem is

Posted: 01 Oct 2014 07:26 AM PDT

Americans love their dogs, but they don't always love to pick up after them. And that's a problem. Dog feces left on the ground wash into waterways, sometimes carrying bacteria -- including antibiotic-resistant strains -- that can make people sick. Now scientists have developed a new genetic test to figure out how much dogs are contributing to this health concern.

Robot researcher combines nature to nurture 'superhuman' navigation

Posted: 01 Oct 2014 07:25 AM PDT

Researchers are investigating realistic navigation for robots using computer modeling of the human eye and the brain of a rat.

Changing Antarctic waters could trigger steep rise in sea levels, conditions 14,000 years ago suggest

Posted: 01 Oct 2014 07:25 AM PDT

Current changes in the ocean around Antarctica are disturbingly close to conditions 14,000 years ago that new research shows may have led to the rapid melting of Antarctic ice and an abrupt 3-4 meter rise in global sea level.

Pet foods: Not all brands follow meat regulations

Posted: 01 Oct 2014 06:03 AM PDT

Pet food mislabeling: the issue is a significant one when it comes to commercial pet foods marketed for dogs and cats. New research set out to identify meat species present as well as any instances of mislabeling. Of the 52 products tested, 31 were labeled correctly, 20 were potentially mislabeled, and one contained a non-specific meat ingredient that could not be verified.

Fall in monsoon rains driven by rise in air pollution, study shows

Posted: 01 Oct 2014 06:03 AM PDT

Emissions produced by human activity have caused annual monsoon rainfall to decline over the past 50 years, a study suggests. In the second half of the 20th century, the levels of rain recorded during the Northern Hemisphere's summer monsoon fell by as much as 10 per cent, researchers say. Changes to global rainfall patterns can have serious consequences for human health and agriculture.

Is Australia prepared for Ebola?

Posted: 01 Oct 2014 06:02 AM PDT

Australia needs to be proactive about potential disease outbreaks like Ebola and establish a national center for disease control, an expert says, while he questions Australia's preparation for public health crises.

Semen secrets: How a previous sexual partner can influence another male's offspring

Posted: 01 Oct 2014 06:02 AM PDT

Scientists have discovered a new form of non-genetic inheritance, showing for the first time that offspring can resemble a mother's previous sexual partner -- in flies at least. Researchers manipulated the size of male flies and studied their offspring. They found that the size of the young was determined by the size of the first male the mother mated with, rather than the second male that sired the offspring.

Effect of topical antibiotics on antibiotic resistance, patient outcomes in ICUs

Posted: 01 Oct 2014 06:02 AM PDT

A comparison of prophylactic antibiotic regimens applied to an area in the mouth and throat and digestive tract were associated with low levels of antibiotic-resistant bacteria and no differences in patient survival and intensive care unit length of stay, according to a study.

Ethical filament: Can fair trade plastic save people and the planet?

Posted: 01 Oct 2014 05:59 AM PDT

It's old news that open-source 3-D printing is cheaper than conventional manufacturing, not to mention greener and incredibly useful for making everything from lab equipment to chess pieces. Now it's time add another star to the 3-D printing constellation. It may help lift some of the world's most destitute people from poverty while cleaning up a major blight on the earth and its oceans: plastic trash.

Microbes in Central Park soil: If they can make it there, they can make it anywhere

Posted: 01 Oct 2014 05:59 AM PDT

Researchers have uncovered more than 167,000 kinds of bacteria, archaea and eukaryotes in the soil beneath one of the nation's iconic urban environments. That's 260 times as many species of birds, plants and invertebrates that live in New York City's Central Park -- combined.

Geneticists solve 40-year-old dilemma to explain why duplicate genes remain in the genome

Posted: 30 Sep 2014 06:22 PM PDT

After 40 years of wondering why, scientists have discovered that duplicate genes confer 'mutational robustness' in individuals, which allows them to adapt to novel, potentially dangerous environments.

New genetic 'operating system' facilitated evolution of 'bilateral' animals

Posted: 30 Sep 2014 02:15 PM PDT

The evolution of worms, insects, vertebrates and other 'bilateral' animals -- those with distinct left and right sides -- from less complex creatures like jellyfish and sea anemones with 'radial' symmetry may have been facilitated by the emergence of a completely new 'operating system' for controlling genetic instructions in the cell.

Expect 6,000 more Australian deaths if pollution rises to 'safe' threshold

Posted: 30 Sep 2014 10:27 AM PDT

The National Environment Protection Measures (NEPM) in Australia has set maximum daily limits, or 'standards', for six key outdoor pollutants, which one expert says many authorities wrongly assume to be 'safe' thresholds for health. To test that assumption, he calculated what the health effects would be if the current average levels of five of those pollutants across Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane were to rise to just below the NEPM 'safe' standards.

Half of global wildlife lost, according to new WWF report

Posted: 29 Sep 2014 05:53 PM PDT

Between 1970 and 2010 populations of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and fish around the globe dropped 52 percent, says the 2014 Living Planet Report released today by World Wildlife Fund (WWF). This biodiversity loss occurs disproportionately in low-income countries -- and correlates with the increasing resource use of high-income countries.

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