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Wednesday, January 7, 2015

ScienceDaily: Top Environment News

ScienceDaily: Top Environment News

New model identifies eastern stream sections holding wild brook trout

Posted: 06 Jan 2015 12:46 PM PST

A new model that can accurately identify stream sections that still hold suitable habitat for wild brook trout will help fisheries managers from Maine to Georgia find and protect habitat for this fish, which is an economically, socially and ecologically important species.

Computer model explains how animals select actions with rewarding outcomes

Posted: 06 Jan 2015 11:07 AM PST

A computer model charting what happens in the brain when an action is chosen that leads to a reward has been developed by researchers. The model could provide new insights into the mechanisms behind motor disorders such as Parkinson's Disease. It may also shed light on conditions involving abnormal learning, such as addiction.

Unraveling controls for plant root growth

Posted: 06 Jan 2015 10:46 AM PST

Green shoots are a sign of spring, but growing those shoots and roots is a complicated process. Now researchers have for the first time described part of the network of genetic controls that allows a plant to grow.

Study casts doubt on mammoth-killing cosmic impact

Posted: 06 Jan 2015 10:05 AM PST

Rock soil droplets formed by heating most likely came from Stone Age house fires and not from a disastrous cosmic impact 12,900 years ago, according to new research. The study, of soil from Syria, is the latest to discredit the controversial theory that a cosmic impact triggered the Younger Dryas cold period.

Study rules out spiders as common cause of bacterial infections in humans

Posted: 06 Jan 2015 09:14 AM PST

Can spiders be carriers of human pathogens? Can they provoke infection through a break in the skin? A team of scientists has data-mined the history of publications on spider envenomations to conclude that the evidence for spider-vectored infection is scanty. Although spider bite may be an attractive and tenable causative agent of a bacterial infection, the data show this is highly improbable, says the study's lead author.

Peat fires: Legacy of carbon up in smoke

Posted: 06 Jan 2015 08:25 AM PST

It reads like a movie script -- ash falling from the sky, thick smoke shutting down airports and businesses, road closures trapping remote northern villages. But this is not from a script; rather, it is study of what could happen through peat burning.

Seed beetle diversity in Xinjiang, China

Posted: 06 Jan 2015 07:27 AM PST

Scientists have looked into the diminutive world of seed beetles in Xinjiang, China, to reveal a diversity of 19 species for the region, four of which are new records for the area.

Marine litter education boosts children's understanding, actions

Posted: 06 Jan 2015 07:27 AM PST

Children could play an important role in solutions to reduce marine litter with some already helping to educate parents and peers about the scale of the issue, experts suggest.

Of flies and ants: New ant decapitation behavior of Dohrniphora flies

Posted: 06 Jan 2015 06:50 AM PST

While watching tiny flies in tropical forests in Brazil, Giar-Ann Kung puzzledly remarked to Brian Brown 'they are cutting the ant heads off!' This unexpected find led to the discovery of a grisly new type of behavior.

When DNA gets sent to time-out: New details revealed in the coordinated regulation of large stretches of DNA

Posted: 06 Jan 2015 06:50 AM PST

For a skin cell to do its job, it must turn on a completely different set of genes than a liver cell -- and keep genes it doesn't need switched off. One way of turning off large groups of genes at once is to send them to 'time-out' at the edge of the nucleus. New research shows how DNA gets sent to the nucleus' far edge, a process critical to controlling genes and determining cell fate.

New treatment offers hope for headshaking in horses

Posted: 06 Jan 2015 06:50 AM PST

A new study has found a treatment called percutaneous electrical nerve stimulation could reduce signs of the condition in horses. The same percutaneous electrical nerve therapy is used in people to manage neuropathic pain.

Has car manufacturer taken the corner too fast with boxfish design? Design based on incorrect interpretation of characteristics of the fish

Posted: 06 Jan 2015 06:50 AM PST

Billions of years of evolution have provided solutions for countless technical problems, while teaching designers and engineers a thing or two along the way. But now a car manufacturer has designed a concept model based on the supposed characteristics of the boxfish. Researchers have shown that their design is actually based on an incorrect interpretation of the characteristics of this fish.

Black widow spider venom unveiled: The fast evolution of a potent toxin

Posted: 06 Jan 2015 05:16 AM PST

New research shows rapid evolution has helped to make the venom of black widow spiders so toxic.

Despite resolutions, people buy more food after new year

Posted: 06 Jan 2015 05:12 AM PST

Despite resolutions to eat better, people buy the greatest amount of food after New Year. Shoppers continue buying elevated holiday-levels of junk food, and then start adding healthier items on top. As a result, people take home 9 percent more calories after New Year than they do over the heavy-eating holidays.

Fracking in Ohio confirmed as cause of rare earthquake strong enough to be felt

Posted: 05 Jan 2015 03:24 PM PST

A new study links the March 2014 earthquakes in Poland Township, Ohio, to hydraulic fracturing that activated a previously unknown fault. The induced seismic sequence included a rare felt earthquake of magnitude 3.0, according to new research.

Nutrition education may help prevent breast cancer reoccurrence

Posted: 05 Jan 2015 02:00 PM PST

Breast cancer is the most frequent cause of death among women worldwide, and five-year survival rates are just 58.4% in Brazil, lower than in many other regions. In a new study, however, researchers provided Brazilian breast cancer patients with nutrition education and found it could benefit patients and may help prevent reoccurrence of the cancer.

Humans, sparrows make sense of sounds in similar ways: Complex set of cognitive skills

Posted: 05 Jan 2015 02:00 PM PST

The song of the swamp sparrow -- a grey-breasted bird found in wetlands throughout much of North America -- is a simple melodious trill. But according to a new study swamp sparrows are capable of processing the notes that make up their simple songs in more sophisticated ways than previously realized -- an ability that may help researchers better understand the perceptual building blocks that enable language in humans.

Skin microbes trigger specific immune responses

Posted: 05 Jan 2015 02:00 PM PST

The immune system in the skin develops distinct responses to the various microbes that naturally colonize the skin, referred to as commensals, new research in mice shows. A research team found that each type of microbe triggers unique aspects of the immune system, suggesting that immune cells found in the skin can rapidly sense and respond to changes in microbial communities.

How bacteria control their size

Posted: 05 Jan 2015 02:00 PM PST

New work shows that bacteria (and probably other cells as well) don't double in mass before dividing. Instead they add a constant volume (or mass) no matter what their initial size. A small cell adds the same volume as a large cell. By following this rule a cell population quickly converges on a common size.

Cold virus replicates better at cooler temperatures

Posted: 05 Jan 2015 02:00 PM PST

The common cold virus can reproduce itself more efficiently in the cooler temperatures found inside the nose than at core body temperature, according to a new study. This finding may confirm the popular yet contested notion that people are more likely to catch a cold in cool-weather conditions.

New information about how enzymes from white blood cells function

Posted: 05 Jan 2015 12:10 PM PST

One of these enzymes from white blood cells, known as MMP12, does not remain outside of cells while it fights infections, but rather it can travel all the way to the center of cells. Understanding how this and other enzymes function is an important step to creating treatments for inflammatory diseases.

Farmer helps close down wildlife poaching racket

Posted: 05 Jan 2015 11:21 AM PST

A member of a cooperative of small-scale farmers, many of whom are former poachers, played a key role in the recent arrests by the Zambia Wildlife Authority (ZAWA) of two wildlife traffickers attempting to trade ivory as part of a major syndicate involved in the illegal wildlife trade.

Imaging linking cell activity, behavior shows what it means for mice to have sex in mind

Posted: 05 Jan 2015 11:17 AM PST

An automated method (much more sensitive than fMRI) to detect the activity of neurons during specific behaviors, at the resolution of individual brain cells throughout the entire mouse brain, has been successfully demonstrated. A team shows brain activation patterns when male mice perform two critical tasks: recognizing other individuals and determining the sex of another individual.

The biology of fun and playfulness

Posted: 05 Jan 2015 11:16 AM PST

Several new articles explore the biology of fun (and the fun of biology). Scientists present what we know about playfulness in dogs, dolphins, frogs, and octopuses. They also provide insights on whether birds can have fun and how experiences in infancy affect a person's unique sense of humor.

How does white-nose syndrome kill bats?

Posted: 05 Jan 2015 11:16 AM PST

Scientists have developed, for the first time, a detailed explanation of how white-nose syndrome (WNS) is killing millions of bats in North America, according to a new study. Scientists hypothesized that WNS, caused by the fungus Pseudogymnoascus destructans, makes bats die by increasing the amount of energy they use during winter hibernation.

Green walls, effective acoustic insulation

Posted: 05 Jan 2015 09:59 AM PST

The benefits provided by green walls has been the focus of recent research. A scientist has concluded that walls comprising plants offer great potential for absorbing noise and could be used as acoustic insulation.

Electromagnetic waves linked to particle fallout in Earth's atmosphere, new study finds

Posted: 05 Jan 2015 09:59 AM PST

In a new study that sheds light on space weather's impact on Earth, researchers show for the first time that plasma waves buffeting the planet's radiation belts are responsible for scattering charged particles into the atmosphere.

Exposure to cold reveals 'switch' that controls formation of brown, white fat

Posted: 05 Jan 2015 09:59 AM PST

The roles that white fat and brown fat play in metabolism is well documented, but new research presents a new wrinkle: each type of fat may change into the other, depending on the temperature. In particular, cold temperatures may encourage 'unhealthy' white fat to change into 'healthy' brown fat.

Ouch! When teeth and hands connect, bites may be beastly

Posted: 05 Jan 2015 09:58 AM PST

Hand injuries are frequently caused by human and animal bites, prompting as many as 330,000 emergency department visits in the United States each year. A literature review outlines the potential complications of human and animal bites to the hand, the importance of early injury assessment, and the use of antibiotic and other treatment methods to avoid infection, permanent disability, and amputation.

New perspective on snake evolution

Posted: 05 Jan 2015 09:58 AM PST

Snakes may not have shoulders, but their bodies aren't as simple as commonly thought, according to a new study that could change how scientists think snakes evolved. Rather than snakes evolving from a lizard ancestor to a more simplified body form, researchers say their findings suggest other animals gained more complex vertebral columns as they evolved.

More whole grains associated with lower mortality, especially cardiovascular

Posted: 05 Jan 2015 09:58 AM PST

Eating more whole grains appears to be associated with reduced mortality, especially deaths due to cardiovascular disease, but not cancer deaths, according to a report.

Over 28,000 endangered lemurs illegally kept as pets in Madagascar may threaten conservation, survival of species

Posted: 05 Jan 2015 08:27 AM PST

An estimated 28,000 lemurs, the world's most endangered primates, have been illegally kept as pets in urban areas of Madagascar over the past three years, possibly threatening conservation efforts and hastening the extinction of some of lemur species.

'Imaginary meal' tricks body into losing weight

Posted: 05 Jan 2015 08:27 AM PST

A more effective diet pill has been developed by scientists. Unlike most diet pills on the market, this new pill, called fexaramine, doesn't dissolve into the blood like appetite suppressants or caffeine-based diet drugs, but remains in the intestines, causing fewer side effects, like an "imaginary meal," the researchers explain.

Iron toxicity for cyanobacteria delayed oxygen accumulation in early Earth's atmosphere

Posted: 05 Jan 2015 08:25 AM PST

Geomicrobiologists say that the first oxygen-producing bacteria were poisoned by abundant iron in ancient oceans. Three billion years ago, Earth's atmosphere contained less than 0.0001 percent oxygen. Today's atmosphere has around 20 percent oxygen -- and that is due to the work of tiny microorganisms in Earth's primeval oceans.

Plant's life cycle: How stages of seeds interact with each other

Posted: 05 Jan 2015 08:25 AM PST

Past research has examined how environmental and genetic factors affect plant life stages individually, but a new study models how the three stages (seed, vegetative, and reproductive) interact with each other.

Why is Greenland covered in ice? Processes in deep Earth interior created conditions for glaciation

Posted: 05 Jan 2015 08:25 AM PST

The ice on Greenland could only form due to processes in the deep Earth interior. Scientists now explain why the conditions for the glaciation of Greenland developed only so recently on a geological time scale.

Rare rock with 30,000 diamonds examined

Posted: 05 Jan 2015 08:24 AM PST

Diamonds are beautiful and enigmatic. Though chemical reactions that create the highly coveted sparkles still remain a mystery, an American professor is studying a rare rock covered in diamonds that may hold clues to the gem's origins.

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