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Saturday, November 1, 2014

ScienceDaily: Top Environment News

ScienceDaily: Top Environment News

Himalayan Viagra fuels caterpillar fungus gold rush

Posted: 30 Oct 2014 01:50 PM PDT

Overwhelmed by speculators trying to cash-in on a prized medicinal fungus known as Himalayan Viagra, two isolated Tibetan communities have managed to do at the local level what world leaders often fail to do on a global scale -- implement a successful system for the sustainable harvest of a precious natural resource, suggests new research.

They know the drill: Leading the league in boring through ice sheets

Posted: 30 Oct 2014 01:30 PM PDT

Hollow coring drills are used to extract ice cores that can analyze the past atmosphere. Scientists have now documented carbon dioxide in the atmosphere between 23,000 and 9,000 years ago, based on data from an 11,000-foot hole in Antarctica.

Biology meets geometry: Geometry of a common cellular structure explored

Posted: 30 Oct 2014 11:22 AM PDT

Architecture imitates life, at least when it comes to those spiral ramps in multistory parking garages. Stacked and connecting parallel levels, the ramps are replications of helical structures found in a ubiquitous membrane structure in the cells of the body.

Bats will hang out with their friends this Halloween

Posted: 30 Oct 2014 11:22 AM PDT

New research has shown that despite moving house frequently, bats choose to roost with the same social groups of 'friends.' The study found that different social groups roost in separate, though adjacent, parts of woodland. The findings have important implications for conservation.

Oceans arrived early to Earth; Primitive meteorites were a likely source of water, study finds

Posted: 30 Oct 2014 11:22 AM PDT

Earth is known as the Blue Planet because of its oceans, which cover more than 70 percent of the planet's surface and are home to the world's greatest diversity of life. While water is essential for life on the planet, the answers to two key questions have eluded us: Where did Earth's water come from and when? While some hypothesize that water came late to Earth, well after the planet had formed, findings from a new study significantly move back the clock for the first evidence of water on Earth and in the inner solar system.

Science casts light on sex in the orchard

Posted: 30 Oct 2014 11:22 AM PDT

Persimmons are among the small club of plants with separate sexes -- individual trees are either male or female. Now scientists have discovered how sex is determined in a species of persimmon, potentially opening up new possibilities in plant breeding.

Genetic factors behind surviving or dying from Ebola shown in mouse study

Posted: 30 Oct 2014 11:22 AM PDT

A newly developed mouse model suggests that genetic factors are behind the mild-to-deadly range of responses to the Ebola virus. The frequency of different manifestations of the disease across the lines of these mice are similar in variety and proportion to the spectrum of clinical disease observed in the 2014 West African outbreak. The new mouse model might be useful in testing candidate therapeutics and vaccines for Ebola, and in finding genetic markers for susceptibility and resistance to the disease.

Emerging disease could wipe out American, European salamanders

Posted: 30 Oct 2014 11:22 AM PDT

A fungal disease from Asia wiped out salamanders in parts of Europe and will likely reach the US through the international wildlife trade in Asian newts sold as pets, say US experts. Scientists report the fungus arose in Asia 30 million years ago and is lethal to many European and American newt species. It has not yet been found in North American wild amphibians.

Magma pancakes beneath Indonesia's Lake Toba: Subsurface sources of mega-eruptions

Posted: 30 Oct 2014 11:20 AM PDT

The tremendous amounts of lava that are emitted during super-eruptions accumulate over millions of years prior to the event in the Earth's crust. These reservoirs consist of magma that intrudes into the crust in the form of numerous horizontally oriented sheets resting on top of each other like a pile of pancakes.

Toddlers copy their peers to fit in, but apes don't

Posted: 30 Oct 2014 10:33 AM PDT

From the playground to the board room, people often follow, or conform, to the behavior of those around them as a way of fitting in. New research shows that this behavioral conformity appears early in human children, but isn't evidenced by apes like chimpanzees and orangutans.

Saving lonely species is important for environment

Posted: 30 Oct 2014 10:30 AM PDT

Endemic eucalyptus in Tasmania has been the focus of recent study. Researchers discovered that these rare species have developed unique characteristics to survive, and that these characteristics may also impact the survival of its neighbors in the ecosystem.

Blocking a fork in the road to DNA replication

Posted: 30 Oct 2014 10:29 AM PDT

A team of scientists has discovered the surprising manner in which an enigmatic protein known as SUUR acts to control gene copy number during DNA replication. It's a finding that could shed new light on the formation of fragile genomic regions associated with chromosomal abnormalities.

Identifying the source of stem cells

Posted: 30 Oct 2014 08:49 AM PDT

When most animals begin life, cells immediately begin accepting assignments to become a head, tail or a vital organ. However, mammals, including humans, are special. The cells of mammalian embryos get to make a different first choice -- to become the protective placenta or to commit to forming the baby.

Female frogs modify offspring development depending on reproduction date

Posted: 30 Oct 2014 08:48 AM PDT

Global warming is altering the reproduction of plants and animals, notably accelerating the date when reproduction and other life processes occur. A new study has discovered that some amphibians are capable of making their offspring grow at a faster rate if they have been born later due to the climate.

Active, biodegradable packaging for oily products

Posted: 30 Oct 2014 08:48 AM PDT

The increase in the presence of plastic in our lives is an unstoppable trend due to the versatility of this material. So innovation in the packaging industry has been focusing on the development of new, more sustainable, economically viable materials with enhanced properties and which also perform the functions required by this sector: to contain, protect and preserve the product, to inform the consumer about it and to facilitate the distribution of it. Now, a single-layer, biodegradable container from agro-industrial by-products suitable for both liquid and solid oily products has been developed by researchers.

Bat influenza viruses unlikely to pose a threat to human health

Posted: 30 Oct 2014 08:47 AM PDT

Veterinary researchers have completed new research that suggests the bat influence virus poses a low risk to humans.

Peripheral clocks don't need the brain's master clock to function correctly

Posted: 30 Oct 2014 07:28 AM PDT

New research further adds to our understanding of the circadian rhythm by suggesting that the suprachiasmaticus nucleus clock, a tiny region of the hypothalamus considered to be the body's 'master' timekeeper, is not necessary to align body rhythms with the light-dark cycle.

Reef-builders with a sense of harmony

Posted: 30 Oct 2014 07:28 AM PDT

Cold-water corals of the species Lophelia pertusa are able to fuse skeletons of genetically distinct individuals. Scientists have made the first-ever discovery of branches of different colors that had flawlessly merged. The ability to fuse supports the reef stability and thus contributes to the success of corals as reef-builders of the deep sea.

Ion adsorption matter in biology

Posted: 30 Oct 2014 07:28 AM PDT

Biological membranes are mainly composed of lipid bilayers. Gaining a better understanding of adsorption of solution ions onto lipid membranes helps clarify functional processes in biological cells. A new study provides a quantitative description of the equilibria between lipid membranes and surrounding solution ions. In addition to shedding some light on biological processes, these results could also have implications for, among other things, the future development of medical diagnostics.

Breakdown in gut barriers to bacteria may promote inflammation and craving in alcoholics

Posted: 30 Oct 2014 07:28 AM PDT

Bacteria in the GI tract fulfill many vital functions and are critical for digestion. Yet, these same bacteria can induce strong inflammatory responses by the immune system if they penetrate the gut and enter the bloodstream. Prior research has established the involvement of inflammatory processes in the development of psychiatric disorders, including major depression and alcohol dependence, but the origins of such inflammation have remained unclear. Now, researchers have found that inflammatory pathways are stimulated in alcohol-dependent patients by bacteria that escape the gut barrier, which correlated with alcohol craving.

Pterostilbene, a molecule similar to resveratrol, as a potential treatment for obesity

Posted: 30 Oct 2014 07:28 AM PDT

Pterostilbene is a phenolic compound in the same family as resveratrol and is present in small amounts in a large variety of foods and beverages like blueberries or red wine. Researchers have observed in animal models that its administration reduces the build-up of body fat, which could reduce the risk of developing other diseases like diabetes.

High air pollution levels near unconventional oil and gas production sites

Posted: 30 Oct 2014 07:15 AM PDT

Research suggests air pollutants released by unconventional oil and gas production are well over recommended levels in the US. High levels of benzene, hydrogen sulfide and formaldehyde were found. The study is the first to be based on community sampling by people who live near production sites and could be used to supplement official air-quality monitoring programs.

Populations of rare songbird found in surprising new habitat

Posted: 30 Oct 2014 07:15 AM PDT

With only 90,000 breeding individuals sparsely distributed across 15 US states, the Swainson's warbler is a species of high conservation concern that, for decades, has left conservationists with little confidence that its populations would ever be fully secure. New research reveals that populations of Swainson's warbler are increasing in a surprising new habitat found mostly on private lands -- pine plantations on nearly 16 million hectares on the coastal plain from eastern Texas to southeastern Virginia.

Wind of Change: European grid prepares for massive integration of renewables

Posted: 30 Oct 2014 07:12 AM PDT

Today, the ancient city of Rome welcomed an important new initiative for the large-scale integration of grids and of renewables sources into Europe's energy mix, with nearly 40 leading organisations from research, industry, utilities, transmission systems operators announcing their united goal to find the BEST PATHS to deliver affordable, reliable power in Europe from "coast to coast".

Seeing dinosaur feathers in a new light

Posted: 30 Oct 2014 07:07 AM PDT

Why were dinosaurs covered in a cloak of feathers long before the early bird species Archaeopteryx first attempted flight? Researchers postulate that these ancient reptiles had a highly developed ability to discern color. Their hypothesis: The evolution of feathers made dinosaurs more colorful, which in turn had a profoundly positive impact on communication, the selection of mates and on dinosaurs' procreation.

New tech aims to improve communication between dogs, humans

Posted: 30 Oct 2014 07:05 AM PDT

A suite of technologies that can be used to enhance communication between dogs and humans has been developed by researchers who say that it has applications in everything from search and rescue to service dogs to training our pets.

Availability of tanning beds on, near college campuses

Posted: 29 Oct 2014 05:41 PM PDT

Among the top 125 colleges on a list compiled by US News & World Report, 48 percent have indoor tanning facilities either on campus or in off-campus housing despite evidence that tanning is a risk factor for skin cancer, according to a study.

Low carb, high fat diets may reduce seizures in tough-to-treat epilepsy

Posted: 29 Oct 2014 05:37 PM PDT

Diets high in fat and low in carbohydrates, such as the ketogenic or modified Atkins diet, may reduce seizures in adults with tough-to-treat epilepsy, according to a review of research.

Bacteria are hard-wired for survival, E. coli study suggests

Posted: 29 Oct 2014 11:56 AM PDT

Some bacteria are able to thrive even when under continued attack, scientists have found, in a development that may help explain how our immune systems can't always prevent infections. The team studied how E. coli responded when its DNA strands were deliberately broken as it tried to carry out its everyday function of dividing and reproducing.

Prenatal phthalate exposures and anogenital distance in swedish boys

Posted: 29 Oct 2014 05:36 AM PDT

The first study to examine prenatal exposure to the phthalate DiNP finds it is associated with a shorter anogenital distance (AGD) in Swedish boys at the age of 21 months.  These findings raise concern since animal research has linked DiNP exposure to a shorter AGD, and studies on humans have related shorter AGD to male genital birth defects as well as impaired reproductive function in adult males, and the levels of DiNP metabolites in humans are increasing globally.  

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