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Tuesday, January 13, 2015

ScienceDaily: Top Environment News

ScienceDaily: Top Environment News

Slick and slender snake beats short and stubby lizard in sand swimming

Posted: 12 Jan 2015 03:13 PM PST

For swimming through sand, a slick and slender snake can perform better than a short and stubby lizard. That's one conclusion from a study of the movement patterns of the shovel-nosed snake, a native of the Mojave Desert of the Southwest United States.

Rise in mass die-offs seen among birds, fish and marine invertebrates

Posted: 12 Jan 2015 03:13 PM PST

An analysis of 727 studies reveals that there have been more instances of rapid, catastrophic animal die-offs over the past 75 years. These mass kills appear to have hit birds, fish and marine invertebrates harder than other species.

Ancient fossils reveal rise in parasitic infections due to climate change

Posted: 12 Jan 2015 03:13 PM PST

A paleobiologist has found indications of a greater risk of parasitic infection due to climate change in ancient mollusk fossils. His study of clams from the Holocene Epoch indicates that current sea level rise may mimic the same conditions that led to an upsurge in parasitic trematodes, or flatworms, he found from that time. He cautions that an outbreak in human infections could occur.

Sex and the single evening primrose

Posted: 12 Jan 2015 12:50 PM PST

Sex or no sex? Using various species of the evening primrose as their model, researchers have demonstrated strong support for a theory that biologists have long promoted: Species that reproduce sexually, rather than asexually, are healthier over time, because they don't accumulate harmful mutations.

BPA and BPS (substitute for BPA) affect embryonic brain development in zebrafish: Low levels of chemicals linked to hyperactivity

Posted: 12 Jan 2015 12:46 PM PST

Bisphenol A, known as BPA, is produced in massive quantities around the world for use in consumer products, including household plastics. In response to public concerns, many manufacturers have replaced BPA with a chemical called bisphenol S (BPS), which is often labeled as "BPA-free" and presumed to be safer by consumers. Scientists have provided evidence that both BPA and BPS cause alterations in brain development leading to hyperactivity in zebrafish.

Mountain system artificially inflates temperature increases at higher elevations

Posted: 12 Jan 2015 11:13 AM PST

While the western US has warmed, recently observed warming in the mountains of the Western US likely is not as large as previously supposed, researchers suggest.

Hybrid 'super mosquito' resistant to insecticide-treated bed nets

Posted: 12 Jan 2015 11:13 AM PST

A hybrid mosquito, resulting from interbreeding of two malaria mosquitoes, now has the ability to survive the insecticides used to treat bed nets -- which have been key to preventing the spread of malaria in humans, scientists report.

Evolution: Rock sponges split up

Posted: 12 Jan 2015 10:56 AM PST

New light on the evolution of the so-called rock sponges has been revealed by researchers suggesting that conventional, morphology-based taxonomies do not accurately reflect the true genealogical relationships within the group.

Two-faced fish clue that our ancestors 'weren't shark-like'

Posted: 12 Jan 2015 10:55 AM PST

An investigation of a 415-million-year-old fish skull strongly suggests that the last common ancestor of all jawed vertebrates, including humans, was not very shark-like. It adds further weight to the growing idea that sharks are not 'primitive.'

New research on what the nose 'knows' reveals an unexpected simplicity

Posted: 12 Jan 2015 10:54 AM PST

Two types of neuronal processors found in the rat olfactory bulb solve the difficult problem of identifying constantly fluctuating environmental odors through linear summation. A team working for 5 years across two continents have made thist surprising discovery, explaining that it's an operation no less straightforward than the one a child uses to add or multiply numbers.

New strains of parasites identified: Research on whipworms has implications for human health and animal conservation

Posted: 12 Jan 2015 10:39 AM PST

Researchers have discovered that there are three genetically distinct groups of whipworms – and only one of the three appears to be transmissible between humans and non-human primates. It is important information for public health officers around the world.

Summer no sweat for Aussies but winter freeze fatal

Posted: 12 Jan 2015 08:08 AM PST

Australians are more likely to die during unseasonably cold winters than hotter than average summers, research has found. The researchers analyzed temperature, humidity and mortality data from 1988 to 2009 for Adelaide Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney to come up with their findings.

The mystery of the Alpine long-eared bat

Posted: 12 Jan 2015 08:04 AM PST

Biologists have confirmed that another five vertebrates have a similar geographical distribution to that of the only high mountain bat species in Europe.

Do viruses make us smarter?

Posted: 12 Jan 2015 06:31 AM PST

Inherited viruses that are millions of years old play an important role in building up the complex networks that characterize the human brain, researchers say. They have found that retroviruses seem to play a central role in the basic functions of the brain, more specifically in the regulation of which genes are to be expressed, and when.

Robot cameras monitor deep sea ecosystems

Posted: 12 Jan 2015 06:31 AM PST

Advanced photographic tools in an unmanned Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) have been used to make major advancements in estimating deep-sea ecosystem diversity at 'landscape' scales, researchers report. By using a camera on the Autosub6000 AUV to take a continuous stream of high resolution photographs of life on the sea floor, this new method revealed a tenfold increase in the precision of deep sea ecosystem diversity estimates relative to the use of scientific trawling.

They see flow signals: Researchers identify nature of 'sixth sense' in fish

Posted: 12 Jan 2015 06:30 AM PST

A team of scientists has identified how a "sixth sense" in fish allows them to detect flows of water, which helps resolve a long-standing mystery about how these aquatic creatures respond to their environment.

Global warming reduces wheat production markedly if no adaptation takes place

Posted: 12 Jan 2015 05:29 AM PST

Future global wheat harvest is likely to be reduced by six per cent per each degree Celsius of local temperature increase if no adaptation takes place. Worldwide this would correspond to 42 million tons of yield reduction, which equals a quarter of current global wheat trade, experts warn.

Fish peptide could help in battle against cardiovascular disease

Posted: 12 Jan 2015 05:29 AM PST

A major international review of a peptide originally found in fish that could be used in the battle against cardiovascular disease has been released by scientists. "We have been working on this exciting peptide for a number of years; it exhibits a very interesting pharmacological profile. Design and evaluation of small molecule drugs has potential for use in the treatment of several cardiovascular diseases," said one investigator.

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