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Wednesday, February 4, 2015

ScienceDaily: Top Environment News

ScienceDaily: Top Environment News

Splash down: High-speed images capture patterns by which raindrops spread pathogens among plants

Posted: 03 Feb 2015 05:44 PM PST

Farmers have long noted a correlation between rainstorms and disease outbreaks among plants. Fungal parasites known as "rust" can grow particularly rampant following rain events, eating away at the leaves of wheat and potentially depleting crop harvests. While historical weather records suggest that rainfall may scatter rust and other pathogens throughout a plant population, the mechanism by which this occurs has not been explored, until now.

Giant rodent used incisors like tusks

Posted: 03 Feb 2015 05:43 PM PST

The largest rodent ever to have lived may have used its front teeth just like an elephant uses its tusks, a new study has found. "We concluded that Josephoartigasia must have used its incisors for activities other than biting, such as digging in the ground for food, or defending itself from predators. This is very similar to how a modern day elephant uses its tusks," an investigator said.

Online photos provide evidence for value of clean water

Posted: 03 Feb 2015 01:01 PM PST

A novel approach to calculating the value of clean water has been developed by scientists. Analyzing photos posted to the online photo-sharing site Flickr, researchers found Minnesota and Iowa lakes with greater water quality receive more visits than dirtier lakes, and that users are willing to travel farther to visit those clean, clear lakes.

Sea slug has taken genes from algae it eats, allowing it to photosynthesize like a plant

Posted: 03 Feb 2015 12:59 PM PST

How a brilliant-green sea slug manages to live for months at a time 'feeding' on sunlight, like a plant, is clarified in a recent study. The authors present the first direct evidence that the emerald green sea slug's chromosomes have some genes that come from the algae it eats.

A novel shuttle for fatty acids

Posted: 03 Feb 2015 12:59 PM PST

Oils from plant seeds provide the basis for many aspects of modern life that are taken for granted, being used to make cooking oil, soap, fuel, cosmetics, medicines, flooring, and many other everyday products. While most of the process by which plants make fatty acids is well-known, the mechanism by which these important molecules get out of the chloroplast was unclear.

There have been a lot of cats in The New York Times over the years

Posted: 03 Feb 2015 11:23 AM PST

The cute cat video seems to be everywhere online, and it's become a handy epithet for everything that journalism should not be. So what should we make of the fact that The New York Times, that paragon of journalism, has written a lot about cats over 140 years? That's the question posed by a journalism professor after compiling hundreds of cat-related tales from the Times' digital archive.

From pecan to walnut: American leafminer invades Italy on a new tree

Posted: 03 Feb 2015 10:33 AM PST

A leafminer that has been invading Italian walnut orchards since 2010, has been shown to be identical to the North American species that feeds on hickories and pecan. The identity of these moths as Coptodisca lucifluella was proved by DNA barcoding and morphological study. Probably the moth invaded the new host plant after it invaded Italy. The leafminer is already widespread in Italy but the level of damage does not seem to be worrisome, experts report.

Role of gravitational instabilities in volcanic ash deposition: The example of Eyjafjallajökull

Posted: 03 Feb 2015 09:31 AM PST

Volcanic ash poses a significant hazard for areas close to volcanoes and for aviation. For example, the 2010 eruption of Eyjafjallajökull, Iceland, clearly demonstrated that even small-to-moderate explosive eruptions, in particular if long-lasting, can paralyze entire sectors of societies, with significant, global-level, economic impacts. Researchers now present the first quantitative description of the dynamics of gravitational instabilities and particle aggregation based on the 4 May 2010 eruption.

How will ocean acidification impact marine life?

Posted: 03 Feb 2015 08:21 AM PST

A new analysis provides a holistic assessment of the impacts of climate change and ocean acidification on marine organisms including coral, shellfish, sea urchins, and other calcifying species.

Female sticklebacks prime their offspring to cope with climate change

Posted: 03 Feb 2015 08:21 AM PST

Three-spined sticklebacks in the North Sea pass on information concerning their living environment to their offspring, without genetic changes, researchers have found. "Female sticklebacks pass on optimized mitochondria, which have adapted to the environmental conditions the mothers experienced, to their offspring. As a result the young fish receive information on their mothers' environment and living conditions without any genetic changes. In this species, then, maternal effects play a decisive role in terms of the potential to adapt to changes in their habitat," researchers say.

New way to clone hemlock trees able to fight off deadly pest

Posted: 03 Feb 2015 08:21 AM PST

For the first time, University of Georgia researchers have successfully cryogenically frozen germplasm from hemlock trees being wiped out across the eastern US by an invasive insect. They've also unlocked a new way to clone the few hemlock trees apparently fighting off the hemlock woolly adelgid, which could potentially lead to a solution for the pest.

Long-term control of cane toads demonstrated

Posted: 03 Feb 2015 08:21 AM PST

Preventing cane toads from entering human-made dams to cool down in the hot, arid zones of Australia kills them in large numbers and is an effective way to stop their spread, new research shows. The study, which involved erecting toad-proof fences around dams, is the first to demonstrate long-term control of the toxic amphibians.

Artificial blood vessels: Tri-layered artificial blood vessels for first time

Posted: 03 Feb 2015 08:19 AM PST

By combining micro-imprinting and electro-spinning techniques, researchers have developed a vascular graft composed of three layers for the first time. This tri-layered composite has allowed researchers to utilize separate materials that respectively possess mechanical strength and promote new cell growth - a significant problem for existing vascular grafts that have only consisted of a single or double layer.

Industrial pump inspired by flapping bird wings

Posted: 03 Feb 2015 08:19 AM PST

Researchers have taken inspiration from avian locomotion strategies and created a pump that moves fluid using vibration instead of a rotor.

Scientists discover organism that hasn't evolved in more than 2 billion years

Posted: 03 Feb 2015 07:41 AM PST

The greatest absence of evolution ever reported has been discovered by an international group of scientists: a type of deep-sea microorganism that appears not to have evolved over more than 2 billion years. But the researchers say that the organisms' lack of evolution actually supports Charles Darwin's theory of evolution.

New method to assess hormone metabolite concentrations in wildlife research

Posted: 03 Feb 2015 07:39 AM PST

Measuring hormone metabolites in urine and feces are essential for studies in wildlife conservation. Scientists have developed a new method with which they can match metabolite concentrations obtained from different measurements during long-term studies or from analyses carried out in different laboratories.

Earth's orbit affects the stability of Antarctica's Eastern ice cap

Posted: 03 Feb 2015 06:43 AM PST

Scientists have found that there is a direct relation between the changes in the earth's orbit and the stability of the Eastern ice cap of Antarctica, more specifically, on the continental fringe of Wilkes Land (East Antarctica).

How is noise produced by wind power plants experienced?

Posted: 03 Feb 2015 06:43 AM PST

The disruptiveness of the noise generated by wind power plants in Finland is the focus of a new study that combines the measurement of the noise produced by wind power with the noise experienced by humans in relation to sound pressure levels and the time and frequency behavior of sound.  

Fishy cooking habits of North American hunter-gatherers revealed

Posted: 03 Feb 2015 06:43 AM PST

Archaeologists have discovered the first use of pottery in north-eastern North America was largely due to the cooking, storage and social feasting of fish by hunter-gatherers.

Faster first aid for catastrophe victims

Posted: 03 Feb 2015 06:41 AM PST

A new system aims to speed up the triage of victims during mass casualty incidents: Instead of colored paper tags, first responders use colored electronic wristbands. These serve to locate victims and transmit vital data to emergency response control centers. An app for Android smartphones also lets victims buried alive under a collapsed building contact rescue teams even though mobile phone networks are down.

Magnetic sense for humans? Electronic skin with magneto-sensory system enables 'sixth sense'

Posted: 03 Feb 2015 06:41 AM PST

Scientists from Germany and Japan have developed a new magnetic sensor, which is thin, robust and pliable enough to be smoothly adapted to human skin, even to the most flexible part of the human palm. The achievement suggests it may be possible to equip humans with magnetic sense.

A third industrial revolution for Norway

Posted: 03 Feb 2015 06:41 AM PST

Norway's wealth and prosperity over the last four decades has been built on oil, but a futurist and social and economic thinker, says it's time for the country to change. The Third Industrial Revolution is coming, and Norway needs to abandon fossil fuels and move towards a greener future that relies on renewable energy, shared transport and ultra-efficient housing, he says.

Decreases in short-term memory, IQ, and altered brain metabolic ratios in urban apolipoprotein ?4 children exposed to air pollution

Posted: 03 Feb 2015 06:41 AM PST

A new study heightens concerns over the detrimental impact of the apolipoprotein E (APOE) ?4 allele -- the most prevalent genetic risk for Alzheimer's disease -- upon cognition, olfaction, and metabolic brain indices in healthy urban children and teens.

New mechanism of inheritance could advance study of evolution, disease treatment

Posted: 02 Feb 2015 06:24 PM PST

A specific mechanism by which a parent can pass silenced genes to its offspring has been uncovered by researchers for the first time. Importantly, the team found that this silencing could persist for multiple generations -- more than 25, in the case of this study.

Addressing feral cats' diet may help protect native species

Posted: 02 Feb 2015 06:24 PM PST

Because reducing the impacts of feral cats -- domestic cats that have returned to the wild -- is a priority for conservation efforts across the globe, a research team recently reviewed the animals' diet across Australia and its territorial islands to help consider how they might best be managed.

New reset button discovered for circadian clock

Posted: 02 Feb 2015 08:41 AM PST

A team of biologists has found a way to use a laser and an optical fiber to reset an animal's master biological clock: A discovery that could in principle be used therapeutically to treat conditions like seasonal affect disorder, reduce the adverse health effects of night shift work and possibly even cure jet lag.

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