African frogs can morph toes into clawsBiologists at Harvard University have determined that some African frogs carry concealed weapons: When threatened, these species puncture their own skin with sharp bones in their toes, using the bones as claws capable of wounding predators.
The unusual defense mechanism is described by Harvard's David C. Blackburn, James Hanken, and Farish A. Jenkins, Jr., in a forthcoming issue of the journal Biology Letters
"It's surprising enough to........Go to the Animal-science-blog (Added on 6/23/2008 8:15:54 PM)
Acid rain and microorganisms in Adirondack Lakes Previous to the federal Clean Air Act, unhindered industrial emissions were released into the air throughout the Midwestern and Eastern United States for decades. A number of of those harmful chemicals came right back down to earth in the form of acid rain, a chemical concoction that includes nitric and sulfuric acid.
Scientists have long known that acid rain can severely decrease the diversity of plant and animal communities in fresh water........Go to the Biology-blog (Added on 6/23/2008 7:36:10 PM)
Gene silencer and quantum dotsMore than 15 years ago researchers discovered a way to stop a particular gene in its tracks. The Nobel Prize-winning finding holds tantalizing promise for medical science, but so far it has been difficult to apply the technique, known as RNA interference, in living cells.
Now researchers at the University of Washington in Seattle and Emory University in Atlanta have succeeded in using nanotechnology known as quantum dots to address this........Go to the Biology-blog (Added on 6/23/2008 7:31:37 PM)
Growers Do Not Reap Benefits Of Rising Food PricesNew research on the commodity coffee market in Uganda finds that when prices percolate, coffee windfalls don't fully reach the growers.
Coffee is the world's largest agricultural commodity, and is also one of the world's most volatile. Large global coffee price fluctuations mean coffee has seen a number of periods of rapidly increasing prices. But new research shows that when global coffee prices rise, farmers do not see the same rise in the........Go to the Plant-science-blog (Added on 6/19/2008 9:05:51 PM)
First successful reverse vasectomy on Przewalski's horseVeterinarians at the Smithsonian's National Zoo have performed the first successful reverse vasectomy on a Przewalski's horse (E. ferus przewalskii; E. caballus przewalskii classification debated), pronounced zshah-VAL-skeez. Przewalksi's horses are a horse species native to China and Mongolia that was declared extinct in the wild in 1970. Currently, there are approximately 1500 of these animals maintained at zoological institutions throughout........Go to the Animal-science-blog (Added on 6/17/2008 10:01:52 PM)
Study of guanacos launched in ChileThe Wildlife Conservation Society has launched a study in Chile's Karukinka reserve on Tierra del Fuego to help protect the guanaco a wild cousin of the llama that once roamed in vast herds from the Andean Plateau to the steppes of Patagonia.
Today, the guanaco population has dwindled to perhaps half a million animals that live in highly fragmented populations due to habitat loss and competition from livestock. Tierra del Fuego,........Go to the Animal-science-blog (Added on 6/10/2008 8:38:59 PM)
Diet prior to pregnancy determines sheep's genderMaternal diet influences the chances of having male or female offspring. Research published recently in BioMed Central's open access journal Reproductive Biology and Endocrinology has demonstrated that ewes fed a diet enriched with polyunsaturated fats for one month previous to conception have a significantly higher chance of giving birth to male offspring.
This study was carried out by a team of scientists from the Division of Animal........Go to the Animal-science-blog (Added on 6/8/2008 9:12:31 PM)
Willing To Pay A Premium For Locally Produced FoodNew research suggests that the average supermarket shopper is willing to pay a premium price for locally produced foods, providing some farmers an attractive option to enter a niche market that could boost their revenues.
The study also showed that shoppers at farm markets are willing to pay almost twice as much extra as retail grocery shoppers for the same locally produced foods. Both kinds of shoppers also will pay more for guaranteed........Go to the Plant-science-blog (Added on 6/3/2008 10:34:56 PM)
The case of the disappearing speciesThroughout the overlooked depths of Lake Michigan and other Great Lakes, a small but important animal is rapidly disappearing.
Until recently, the animal - a shrimplike, energy-dense creature called Diporeia - was a major food source for commercially important species like lake whitefish and a number of prey fish upon which salmon, trout and walleye rely.
Researchers are employing new research methods in a quest to explain their........Go to the Animal-science-blog (Added on 5/28/2008 6:12:18 PM)
What makes life go at the tropics?What causes tropical life to thrive: temperature, or sunlight?
The answer is not necessarily both. As per a research studypublished online this week in PNAS Early Edition, the explosion of species at the tropics has much more to do with warmth than with light.
The diversity was uncorrelation to productivity (from photosynthesis), but it was strongly correlation to temperature, said University of Southern California biologist Jed Fuhrman,........Go to the Plant-science-blog (Added on 5/27/2008 10:24:55 PM)
Over 50 percent of oceanic shark species threatened with extinction22nd May 2008 The first study to determine the global threat status of 21 species of wide-ranging oceanic pelagic sharks and rays reveals serious overfishing and recommends key steps that governments can take to safeguard populations. These findings and recommendations for action are reported in the latest edition of Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems.
This international study, organised by the IUCN Shark Specialist........Go to the Animal-science-blog (Added on 5/22/2008 10:29:56 PM)
New family of gecko discoveredScientists at the University of Minnesotas Bell Museum of Natural History and Pennsylvanias Villanova University have discovered a new family of gecko, the charismatic large-eyed lizard popularized by car insurance commercials.
Researchers have long been interested in geckos and their evolution because they are key biodiversity indicators and are found on nearly every continent. Scientists are also interested in the gecko because of the........Go to the Animal-science-blog (Added on 5/22/2008 10:20:09 PM)
North Pacific humpback whale populations reboundingThe number of humpback whales in the North Pacific Ocean has increased since international and federal protections were enacted in the 1960s and 70s, as per a new study funded primarily by NOAA and conducted by more than 400 whale scientists throughout the Pacific region.
However, some isolated populations of humpbacks, particularly those in the Western Pacific Ocean, have not recovered at the same rate and still suffer low numbers.
The........Go to the Animal-science-blog (Added on 5/21/2008 8:39:40 PM)
Children's gardens mushroomingScientists have discovered the secrets to enhancing youth participation in school- and community-based garden programs. A 3-year study entitled Greener Voices proves that children will engage in learning more readily when given responsibility for decisionmaking and planning.
Childrens gardens have mushroomed during the past two decades. Gardens are popping up in schools, communities, public venues, and informal settings. Despite recent........Go to the Plant-science-blog (Added on 5/19/2008 8:19:39 PM)
New recommendations for grape growersThe inland areas of the Pacific Northwest, where rainfall averages only 4 to 12 inches per year, present growing challenges for vineyard owners and wine grape producers. The arid conditions in this part of the country have not been conducive for vineyard owners who produce and market high-quality wine grapes.
To promote healthy grape production when nature fails to deliver, vineyard managers in the area typically employ an irrigation........Go to the Plant-science-blog (Added on 5/19/2008 7:34:59 PM)
Hepatica nobilisThanks once again to Jackie Chambers, UBC Botanical Garden horticulturist, for supplying both the photograph and write-up for today''s BPotD
This superb little perennial is currently flowering in the E.H. Lohbrunner Alpine Garden at UBC Botanical Garden. Hepatica nobilis is native to woodlands of temperate Asia and Europe. The flowers are an exquisite violet-blue, occasionally white or pinkish, and are produced in February to May. Each........Go to the Plant-science-blog (Added on 5/18/2008 6:09:23 PM)
Simple Model Cell is Key to Understanding Cell ComplexityA team of Penn State scientists has developed a simple artificial cell with which to investigate the organization and function of two of the most basic cell components: the cell membrane and the cytoplasm--the gelatinous fluid that surrounds the structures in living cells. The work could lead to the creation of new drugs that take advantage of properties of cell organization to prevent the development of diseases. The team's findings will be........Go to the Biology-blog (Added on 5/15/2008 8:02:30 PM)
Deep sea methane scavengers capturedResearchers of the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ) in Leipzig and the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in Pasadena succeeded in capturing syntrophic (means "feeding together") microorganisms that are known to dramatically reduce the oceanic emission of methane into the atmosphere. These microorganisms that oxidize methane anaerobically are an important component of the global carbon cycle and a major sink for........Go to the Biology-blog (Added on 5/14/2008 9:24:49 PM)
Mouse can do without man's most treasured genesThe mouse is a stalwart stand-in for humans in medical research, thanks to genomes that are 85 percent identical. But identical genes may behave differently in mouse and man, a study by University of Michigan evolutionary biologists Ben-Yang Liao and Jianzhi Zhang reveals.
Their results, which have implications for the use of mouse models in studying human disease, appear in the current issue of the journal Proceedings of the National........Go to the Animal-science-blog (Added on 5/14/2008 8:39:05 PM)
Window of opportunity for restoring oaks smallCommunities of Oregon white oak were once widespread in the Pacific Northwests western lowlands, but, today, they are in decline. Fire suppression, conifer and invasive plant encroachment, and land use change have resulted in the loss of as much as 99 percent of the oak communities historically present in some areas of the region.
A new technical report titled "Evaluation of Landscape Alternatives for Managing Oak at Tenalquot Prairie,........Go to the Plant-science-blog (Added on 5/14/2008 8:25:20 PM)
Primate's scent speaks volumes about who he isPerhaps judging a man by his cologne isn't as superficial as it seems.
Duke University researchers, using sophisticated machinery to analyze hundreds of chemical components in a ringtailed lemur's distinctive scent, have observed that individual males are not only advertising their fitness for fatherhood, but also a bit about their family tree as well.
"We now know that there's information about genetic quality and relatedness in scent,"........Go to the Animal-science-blog (Added on 6/23/2008 8:11:14 PM)
Single Insecticide Application Can Kill 3 Cockroach GenerationsOne dose of an insecticide can kill three generations of cockroaches as they feed off of each other and transfer the poison, as per Purdue University entomologists who tested the effectiveness of a specific gel bait.
It is the first time that researchers have shown that a pest control bait will remain effective when it's transferred twice after the first killing dose, said Grzegorz "Grzesiek" Buczkowski, assistant professor of entomology.........Go to the Animal-science-blog (Added on 6/23/2008 7:43:32 PM)
Lost in the Supermarket?Why the "Cheap Food Revolution" hasn't reached poor countries.
Most people don't think twice as they pass spring apples from the southern hemisphere as they enter the supermarket, but they are participating in a cheap food revolution that has swept the industrialized world over the past couple of generations. The supermarket is the last step in a complicated global process that has changed every aspect of how we produce and consume food. In........Go to the Plant-science-blog (Added on 6/19/2008 9:08:38 PM)
Bacteria anticipate coming changes in their environmentMicrobes may be smarter than we think.
A new study by Princeton University scientists shows for the first time that bacteria don't just react to changes in their surroundings -- they anticipate and prepare for them. The findings, published in the June 6 issue of Science, challenge the prevailing notion that only organisms with complex nervous systems have this ability.
"What we have found is the first evidence that bacteria can use sensed........Go to the Biology-blog (Added on 6/18/2008 8:36:46 PM)
High hormone levels in seabird chicks prepare them to kill their siblingsThe Nazca booby, a Galpagos Island seabird, emerges from its shell ready to kill its brother or sister. Wake Forest University biologists and their colleagues have linked the murderous behavior to high levels of testosterone and other male hormones found in the hatchlings.
The study appears in the June 18 edition of the online journal PLoS ONE available at http://www.plosone.org/doi/pone.002460.
The elevated levels of male hormones,........Go to the Animal-science-blog (Added on 6/18/2008 8:33:35 PM)
Farmers who plant after June 20A costly deadline looms for a number of growers in the Midwest, as every day of waiting for the weather to cooperate to plant corn and soybeans reduces potential yields.
Illinois growers who plant corn or soybeans near the end of June can expect a 50 percent reduction in crop yield, as per a University of Illinois agriculture expert.
The US Department of Agriculture reports that corn and soybean growers in several Midwestern states are........Go to the Plant-science-blog (Added on 6/10/2008 9:50:06 PM)
Man-made Chemical Pollutants Found in Deep-sea Octopods and SquidsNew evidence that chemical contaminants are finding their way into the deep-sea food web has been found in deep-sea squids and octopods, including the strange-looking "vampire squid". These species are food for deep-diving toothed whales and other predators.
In a study would be reported in the journal Marine Pollution Bulletin, Michael Vecchione of NOAA Fisheries' National Systematics Laboratory and his colleagues Michael Unger, Ellen Harvey........Go to the Animal-science-blog (Added on 6/9/2008 9:11:10 PM)
Winnie the whimbrel flies 3,200 miles in 146 hoursScientists from the College of William and Mary's Center for Conservation Biology and The Nature Conservancy have observed the record-setting migration of a shorebird from feeding grounds on the Delmarva Peninsula to breeding grounds on the McKenzie River near the Alaska-Canada border.
The bird's six-day flight is challenging conventional scientific thinking about long-distance migration routes and underscores the ecological importance of........Go to the Animal-science-blog (Added on 6/5/2008 5:50:27 PM)
Genetic mutation linked to walking on all 4sBarcelona, Spain: What are the genes implicated in upright walking of humans? The discovery of four families in which some members only walk on all fours (quadrupedality) may help us understand how humans, unlike other primates, are able to walk for long periods on only two legs, a scientist will tell the annual conference of the European Society of Human Genetics tomorrow (Monday 2 June).
The quadrupedal families in Turkey previously........Go to the Biology-blog (Added on 6/1/2008 10:30:28 PM)
Healthy Parents Provide Clues to Survival of Young HaddockIn 2003, haddock on Georges Bank experienced the largest baby boom ever documented for the stock, with an estimated 800 million new young fish entering the population. With typical annual averages of 50 to 100 million new fish in the last few decades, fisheries biologists have been puzzled by the huge increase and its ramifications for stock management. They have been looking for answers and may have found one - healthy adults.
In a study........Go to the Animal-science-blog (Added on 5/27/2008 10:09:46 PM)
The secret behind silkworm's hardy stomachsSilkworms have a unique ability to eat toxic mulberry leaves without feeling ill, and scientists have come one step closer to understanding why: silkworms contain a special digestive enzyme that is not affected by mulberrys toxic chemicals.
Mulberry leaves contain an extremely high amount of alkaloids that inhibit enzymes that break down sucrose (sugar), and thus are potentially quite toxic. However, one type of sucrase called........Go to the Animal-science-blog (Added on 5/27/2008 9:34:48 PM)
Relocation of endangered Chinese turtleThere are only four specimens of the Yangtze giant softshell turtle left on Earthone in the wild and three in captivity. In order to save this species from extinction, conservation partners from the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and the Turtle Survival Alliance (TSA), working in conjunction with partners from two Chinese zoos and the China Zoo Society, recently paired two of them. A still reproductive, more than 80-year-old, female,........Go to the Animal-science-blog (Added on 5/21/2008 8:54:32 PM)
Scientists Discover a Molecular ScaffoldBrain cells known as neurons process information by joining into complex networks, transmitting signals to each other across junctions called synapses. But "neurons don't just connect to other neurons," emphasizes Z. Josh Huang, Ph.D., "in a lot of cases, they connect to very specific partners, at particular spots."
Dr. Huang, a professor at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL), leads a team that has identified molecules guiding this highly........Go to the Biology-blog (Added on 5/20/2008 9:36:56 PM)
Greener offices make happier employeesAs per the 2000 census, Americans office workers spend an average of 52 hours a week at their desks or work stations. A number of recent studies on job satisfaction have shown that workers who spend longer hours in office environments, often under artificial light in windowless offices, report reduced job satisfaction and increased stress levels.
How can employers make office environments more conducive to productivity and employee........Go to the Plant-science-blog (Added on 5/19/2008 7:48:24 PM)
Wanted: a reason to divorceDivorce is widespread, not only in humans, but also in socially monogamous birds like the blue tit. Behavioural ecologists Mihai Valcu and Bart Kempenaers from the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology in Seewiesen found divorce rates of up to 50% in a long-term study of this species. But why do partners split up? To answer this question, it helps to know who suffers and who benefits from the separation (Animal Behaviour, April 23, 2008).
........Go to the Animal-science-blog (Added on 5/18/2008 10:25:59 PM)
Explorers marvel at 'Brittlestar City' on seamountCensus of Marine Life-affiliated scientists, plumbing the secrets of a vast underwater mountain range south of New Zealand, captured the first images of a novel Brittlestar City established against daunting odds on the peak of a seamount an underwater summit taller than the worlds tallest building.
Its cramped starfish-like inhabitants, tens of millions living arm tip to arm tip, owe their success to the seamounts shape and to the swirling........Go to the Biology-blog (Added on 5/18/2008 9:40:33 PM)
Gravity-defying bird beak mysteryAs Charles Darwin showed nearly 150 years ago, bird beaks are exquisitely adapted to the birds' feeding strategy. A team of MIT mathematicians and engineers has now explained exactly how some shorebirds use their long, thin beaks to defy gravity and transport food into their mouths.
The phalarope, usually found in western North America, takes advantage of surface interactions between its beak and water droplets to propel bits of food from........Go to the Animal-science-blog (Added on 5/15/2008 7:29:32 PM)
Monarch butterflies help explain why parasites harm hostsIt's a paradox that has confounded evolutionary biologists since Charles Darwin published On the Origin of Species in 1859: Since parasites depend on their hosts for survival, why do they harm them?
A new University of Georgia and Emory University study of monarch butterflies and the microscopic parasites that hitch a ride on them finds that the parasites strike a middle ground between the benefits gained by reproducing rapidly and the costs........Go to the Animal-science-blog (Added on 5/14/2008 8:54:52 PM)
Likely causative gene for Alzheimer'sThe genetic profile of two large Georgia families with high rates of late-onset Alzheimer's disease points to a gene that may cause the disease, scientists say.
Genetic variations called single nucleotide polymorphisms, or SNPs, are common in DNA, but this pattern of SNPs shows up in nine out of 10 affected family members, says Dr. Shirley E. Poduslo, neuroscientist in the Medical College of Georgia Schools of Medicine and Graduate Studies........Go to the Animal-science-blog (Added on 5/14/2008 8:43:08 PM)
Restoring fish populationsYou might think that stocking the Great Lakes with things like trout and salmon would be good for the herring gull. The birds often eat from the water, so it would be natural to assume that more fish would mean better dining. But a new report published in the April journal of Ecology by the Ecological Society of America says that the addition of species such as exotic salmon and trout to the area has not been good for the birds, demonstrating........Go to the Animal-science-blog (Added on 5/14/2008 7:39:46 PM)