Moths cloaked in colorTravelers to the neotropicsthe tropical lands of the Americasmight be forgiven for thinking that all of the colorful insects flittering over sunny puddles or among dense forest understory are butterflies. In fact, a number of are not. Some are moths that have reinvented themselves as butterflies, converging on the daytime niche typically dominated by their less hairy relatives. Now, a new revision of the taxonomic relationships among one such........Go to the Animal-science-blog (Added on 8/31/2009 10:07:11 PM)
Global priority regions for carnivore conservationFinding economical and practical solutions for conserving endangered carnivores is a continuous challenge for conservationists. As per a research findings published by the peer evaluated open access journal, PLoS ONE, on August 27th, a team of Brazilian scientists define global conservation priorities that encompass socioeconomic and life-history factors for endangered carnivores.
The team, led by Dr. Rafael Loyola, examined four global........Go to the Animal-science-blog (Added on 8/26/2009 11:08:55 PM)
Some aspects of birding not always environmentally friendlyOnce upon a trash heap dreary, while he wandered, weak and weary, University of Illinois English professor and birding enthusiast Spencer Schaffner raised his binoculars, focused and had a eureka moment.
In his sights, not a raven, nor even the Tamaulipas crow, a once-common inhabitant of the Brownsville, Texas, city dump. Rather, Schaffner identified the rarely spotted fowl irony.
The U. of I. professor, who also watches and studies........Go to the Animal-science-blog (Added on 8/20/2009 7:09:09 AM)
Rare healing substances in the endangered Devil's claw plantDeep in Africa's Kalahari Desert lies the "Devil's claw," a plant that may hold the key to effective therapys for arthritis, tendonitis and other illnesses that affect millions each year. Unfortunately, years of drought have pushed the Devil's claw toward extinction, so researchers are scrambling to devise new ways to produce the valuable medicinal chemicals of the Devil's claw and other rare plants.
One group of researchers reported a major........Go to the Plant-science-blog (Added on 8/16/2009 9:14:39 PM)
Researchers sequence exomes of 12 peopleIn a pioneering effort that generated massive amounts of DNA sequence data from 12 people, a team supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has demonstrated the feasibility and value of a new strategy for identifying relatively rare genetic variants that may cause or contribute to disease. The proof-of-concept findings were published online today in the journal Nature
The new strategy involves isolating and sequencing all exons........Go to the Biology-blog (Added on 8/16/2009 8:25:53 PM)
A plant's arsenal of crystalline darts and sandPet owners have heard the warnings to keep certain poisonous houseplants away from their pets, such as Dieffenbachia (dumbcane), Philodendron, peace lily, and pothos. For houseplants like these and others, the problem may not just be a poison, but the presence of tiny crystals throughout the plant.
A discussion of plants may not bring to mind crystals; however, crystals are found in hundreds of plant families. Despite this, their purpose is........Go to the Plant-science-blog (Added on 8/6/2009 11:31:23 PM)
Sick fish may get sickerEntire populations of North American fish already are being affected by several emerging diseases, a problem that threatens to increase in the future with climate change and other stresses on aquatic ecosystems, as per a noted U.S. Geological Survey researcher giving an invited talk on this subject today at the Wildlife Disease Association conference in Blaine, Wash.
"A generation ago, we couldn't have imaged the explosive growth in disease........Go to the Animal-science-blog (Added on 8/4/2009 8:29:55 AM)
Mapping the crocodile genomeThe first ever genetic linkage map for a non-avian member of the Class Reptilia has been developed. Scientists writing in the open access journal BMC Genomics have constructed a first-generation genetic linkage map for the saltwater crocodile Crocodylus porosus.
Dr Lee Miles, from the University of Sydney, worked with a team of Australian and international scientists to study a population of saltwater crocodiles from the Darwin Crocodile........Go to the Animal-science-blog (Added on 7/28/2009 11:46:27 PM)
Study sheds light on squirrel psychologyThe research team tested the squirrels' ability to learn to choose between two pots of food after watching another squirrel remove a nut from one of the pots. One group was rewarded for choosing the same pot as the prior squirrel, the second group was rewarded for targeting the other pot. Those that were rewarded for choosing food from the other pot learned more quickly than those that were rewarded for choosing the same pot. This suggests that........Go to the Animal-science-blog (Added on 7/28/2009 11:42:13 PM)
Orangutans unique in movementMovement through a complex meshwork of small branches at the heights of tropical forests presents a unique challenge to animals wanting to forage for food safely. It can be particularly dangerous for large animals where a fall of up to 30m could be fatal. Scientists found that dangerous tree vibrations can be countered by the orang-utan's ability to move with an irregular rhythm.
Professor Robin Crompton, from the University of Liverpool's........Go to the Animal-science-blog (Added on 7/27/2009 11:22:33 PM)
There is more to bats' visionThe eyes of nocturnal bats possess two spectral cone photoreceptor types for daylight and colour vision. Reporting in the open-access, peer-evaluated journal PLoS ONE, researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Brain Research in Frankfurt and the University of Oldenburg have detected cones and their visual pigments in two flower-visiting species of bat. With electroretinographic recordings, they found an increased sensitivity to UV light in........Go to the Animal-science-blog (Added on 7/27/2009 11:07:41 PM)
Ants more rational than humansIn a study released online on July 22 in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society: Biological Sciences, scientists at Arizona State University and Princeton University show that ants can accomplish a task more rationally than our multimodal, egg-headed, tool-using, bipedal, opposing-thumbed selves.
This is not the case of humans being "stupider" than ants. Humans and animals simply often make irrational choices when faced with very........Go to the Animal-science-blog (Added on 7/26/2009 12:40:32 PM)
Horns alone do not make the speciesHow do you recognize a new species?
A thorough study of the million-year evolution of California's horned lizards, sometimes referred to as "horny toads," shows that when it comes to distinguishing such recently diverged species, the most powerful method integrates genetic, anatomical and ecological information.
In the study, published this week in the early online edition of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences,........Go to the Animal-science-blog (Added on 7/21/2009 10:54:47 PM)
Protein structures revealed at record paceResearchers at the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have developed a fast and efficient way to determine the structure of proteins, shortening a process that often takes years into a matter of days.
The high-throughput protein pipeline could allow researchers to expedite the development of biofuels, decipher how extremophiles thrive in conditions that kill most organisms, and better understand how........Go to the Biology-blog (Added on 7/20/2009 11:51:30 PM)
Neon blue-tailed tree lizard glides like a featherMost lacertid lizards are content scurrying in and out of nooks and crannies in walls and between rocks. However, some have opted for an arboreal life style. Neon blue tailed tree lizards (Holaspis guentheri) leap from branch to branch as they scamper through trees in the African forest. There are even anecdotes that the tiny African tree lizards can glide. But without any obvious adaptations to help them to upgrade a leap to a glide, it wasn't........Go to the Animal-science-blog (Added on 7/16/2009 11:48:59 PM)
Scientists from Scotland to Study Bovine TBIn 2008, the U.S. Department of Agriculture spent $31 million to depopulate herds of cattle affected by bovine tuberculosis (TB), even though the risk of the disease has been significantly reduced in the U.S. over the past several decades. Worldwide, particularly in developing countries, the disease persists, which could threaten the U.S. cattle industry in terms of international trade.
The development of new tools to better understand........Go to the Animal-science-blog (Added on 7/11/2009 1:24:25 PM)
Learning more about big birds from feathersCatching adult eagles for research purposes is no easy task, but a Purdue University researcher has found a way around the problem, and, in the process, gathered even more information about the birds without ever laying a hand on one.
"A number of birds are small, easy to catch and abundant," said Andrew DeWoody, associate professor of forestry and natural resources. "With eagles, the effort can be 100 to 1,000 times greater than catching........Go to the Animal-science-blog (Added on 7/6/2009 7:48:36 PM)
Hair sheep, could be key to better diagnostic testsIt's the hair sheep, a less-hirsute version of the familiar woolly barnyard resident. A newly released study from the Stanford University School of Medicine, which is to be published July 3 in PLoS ONE, finds that not only are these ruminants low-maintenance and parasite-resistant, they're also perfect blood donors for the microbiology tests necessary to diagnose infectious disease in the developing world.
Identifying microbes from a........Go to the Animal-science-blog (Added on 7/4/2009 10:48:23 PM)
Long-term apple scab resistance remains elusiveThere are hundreds of choices when picking a crabapple tree from the nursery, but a Purdue University expert says only a handful are resistant to a widespread fungus or other serious diseases.
After reviewing 33 years of data, Janna Beckerman, a Purdue assistant professor of botany and plant pathology, observed that only five of 287 crabapple varieties had durable resistance to a serious disease of crabapple trees. The results of her study........Go to the Plant-science-blog (Added on 6/25/2009 7:29:08 PM)
How piranhas got their teethHow did piranhas the legendary freshwater fish with the razor bite get their telltale teeth? Scientists from Argentina, the United States and Venezuela have uncovered the jawbone of a striking transitional fossil that sheds light on this question. Named Megapiranha paranensis, this previously unknown fossil fish bridges the evolutionary gap between flesh-eating piranhas and their plant-eating cousins.
Present-day piranhas have a single row........Go to the Animal-science-blog (Added on 6/25/2009 6:05:13 PM)
DNA from Linnaeus' botanical collectionsScientists at Uppsala University has succeeded in extracting long DNA fragments from dried, pressed plant material collected in the 1700s by Linnaeus' apprentice Adam Afzelius. It is hoped that the study, led by Associate Professor Katarina Andreasen, will shed light on whether plants growing today at Linnaeus' Hammarby estate outside Uppsala reflect the species cultivated by Linnaeus himself.
A large number of plants of uncertain provenance........Go to the Plant-science-blog (Added on 8/28/2009 7:01:08 AM)
The invasive green mussel may inspire new forms of wet adhesionThe green mussel is known for being a notoriously invasive fouling species, but researchers have just discovered that it also has a very powerful form of adhesion in its foot, as per a recent article in the Journal of Biological Chemistry The stickiness of the mussel's foot could possibly be copied to form new man-made adhesives.
Other mussels have inspired synthetic polymers that have been made into versatile adhesives and coatings,........Go to the Animal-science-blog (Added on 8/28/2009 6:51:27 AM)
Tiger Poachers BustedIndonesian authorities have arrested five wildlife trade suspects for attempting to illegally sell Sumatran tiger skins. The most recent raid took place in Jakarta on August 7 and recovered a number of protected wildlife species in addition to two complete tiger skins. On July 16, a raid in Sumatra recovered 33 tiger skin pieces, which ranged in size.
Both raids were conducted by the Indonesian Police and the Indonesian Department of........Go to the Animal-science-blog (Added on 8/19/2009 7:13:06 AM)
'Killer spices' provide eco-friendly pesticidesMention rosemary, thyme, clove, and mint and most people think of a delicious meal. Think biggeracres bigger. These well-known spices are now becoming organic agriculture's key weapons against insect pests as the industry tries to satisfy demands for fruits and veggies among the growing portion of consumers who want food produced in more natural ways.
In a study presented here today at the American Chemical Society's 238th National Meeting,........Go to the Animal-science-blog (Added on 8/16/2009 9:40:50 PM)
Importance of niche differences in biodiversityUC Santa Barbara have found good evidence that niche differences are critical to biodiversity. Their findings are published online in this week's issue of the journal Nature.
"Ecologists have long assumed that species differences in how they use the environment are key to explaining the large number of species we see all around us, but the importance of such niches have never been field tested," said first author Jonathan M. Levine,........Go to the Biology-blog (Added on 8/13/2009 7:07:47 AM)
Round Goby invade Great LakesCanadian researchers uncover alarming invasion of round goby into Great Lakes tributaries: impact on endangered fishes likely to be serious.
A team of researchers from the University of Toronto, the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and the University of Guelph has identified a drastic invasion of round goby into a number of Great Lakes tributaries, including several areas of the Thames, Sydenham, Ausable and Grand Rivers. Many the........Go to the Animal-science-blog (Added on 8/11/2009 11:21:21 PM)
Agricultural research key to food securityBoosting agricultural research in the developing world is the key to ensuring food security for the world's poorest, says Adel el-Beltagy, Chair of the Global Form on Agricultural Research (GFAR), writing in the latest issue of the TWAS Newsletter, published last week.
With nearly a billion people suffering from chronic hunger, global food security remains a major concern, despite being a key goal of the UN Millennium Development Goals........Go to the Plant-science-blog (Added on 8/4/2009 8:10:19 AM)
Researchers link jellyfish, other small sea creatures to large-scale ocean mixingThe ocean's smallest swimming animals, such as jellyfish, can have a huge impact on large-scale ocean mixing, scientists have discovered.
"The perspective we commonly take is how the ocean--by its currents, temperature, and chemistry--is affecting animals," says John Dabiri, a Caltech bioengineer who, along with Caltech graduate student Kakani Katija, discovered the new mechanism. "But there have been increasing suggestions that the inverse........Go to the Animal-science-blog (Added on 7/29/2009 11:17:56 PM)
Freshwater fish at the top of the food chainFor avid fishermen and anglers, the largemouth bass is a favorite freshwater fish with an appetite for minnows. A newly released study finds that once they evolved to eat other fish, largemouth bass and fellow fish-feeders have remained relatively unchanged compared with their insect- and snail-eating cousins. As these fishes became top predators in aquatic ecosystems, natural selection put the breaks on evolution, say researchers.
A highly........Go to the Animal-science-blog (Added on 7/28/2009 11:28:55 PM)
Forest response project FACEs the endAfter 12 years, an experiment focused on forest growth and climate change comes to an end, and scientists at Oak Ridge National Laboratory are eager to collect and analyze data to see if their predictions match results.
With the Department of Energy-sponsored free air carbon dioxide enrichment experiment, known as FACE, three plots of sweetgum trees were the control sites and two plots of sweetgums were exposed to increased carbon dioxide........Go to the Plant-science-blog (Added on 7/28/2009 11:17:08 PM)
121 breeding tigers estimated to be found in NepalThe first ever overall nation-wide estimate of the tiger population brought a positive ray of hope among conservationists. The figures announced by the Nepal Government's Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation (DNPWC) shows the presence of 121 (100 194) breeding tigers in the wild within the four protected areas of Nepal. The 2008 tiger population estimate was jointly implemented by the DNPWC, Department of Forests (DOF), WWF,........Go to the Animal-science-blog (Added on 7/27/2009 11:06:27 PM)
After dinosaurs, mammals riseEvidence buried in the chromosomes of animals and plants strongly suggests only one group -- mammals -- have seen their genomes shrink after the dinosaurs' extinction. What's more, that trend continues today, say Indiana University Bloomington researchers in the first issue of a new journal, Genome Biology and Evolution
The scientists' finding might seem counter-intuitive, given that the last 65 million years have seen mammals expand in........Go to the Animal-science-blog (Added on 7/27/2009 11:00:40 PM)
An 'eye catching' vision discoveryNearly all species have some ability to detect light. At least three types of cells in the retina allow us to see images or distinguish between night and day. Now, scientists at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine have discovered in fish yet another type of cell that can sense light and contribute to vision.
Reporting in this week's Nature, the team of neuroresearchers shows that retinal horizontal cells, which are nerve cells once thought........Go to the Animal-science-blog (Added on 7/26/2009 12:36:05 PM)
Sea lamprey jettison one-fifth of their genomeScientists have discovered that the sea lamprey, which emerged from jawless fish first appearing 500 million years ago, dramatically remodels its genome. Shortly after a fertilized lamprey egg divides into several cells, the growing embryo discards millions of units of its DNA.
The findings were published this month in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences The main author is Jeramiah Smith, a postdoctoral fellow in genome........Go to the Animal-science-blog (Added on 7/20/2009 11:53:03 PM)
DNA of ancient lost barley could help modern cropsScientists at the University of Warwick have recovered significant DNA information from a lost form of ancient barley that triumphed for over 3000 years seeing off: 5 changes in civilisation, water shortages and a much more popular form of barley that produces more grains. This discovery offers a real insight into the couture of ancient farming and could assist the development of new varieties of crops to face today's climate change challenges.........Go to the Plant-science-blog (Added on 7/20/2009 11:15:17 PM)
Catastrophic winter seabird lossesIt's a terrible sight: hundreds of dead seabirds washed up on the seashore. These catastrophic events occur in the winter and are known as winter wrecks. No one knows why the birds perish, and it is almost impossible to study the animals out in stormy winter seas to find out how they meet their fate. With the birds' tough life style in mind, Jrme Fort and David Grmillet from the CNRS Centre d'Ecologie Fonctionnelle et Evolutive in France........Go to the Animal-science-blog (Added on 7/16/2009 11:46:40 PM)
A question of heightIntelligent countryside management could improve the survival chances of animal and plant species threatened by climate change. The creation of small heat-shielded habitats and better links between habitats would counteract a moderate temperature increase and give threatened species more time to adapt better and/or to migrate to cooler regions. This is the conclusion drawn by researchers at the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ)........Go to the Animal-science-blog (Added on 7/4/2009 10:52:21 PM)
Plants' internal clock can improve climate-change modelsThe ability of plants to tell the time, a mechanism common to all living beings, enables them to survive, grow and reproduce. As per a research findings reported in the latest issue of the prestigious journal Ecology Letters, an international team has studied this circadian clock from a molecular viewpoint and has found an ecological implication: it makes climate change scenarios and CO2 level figures more accurate.
The international team of........Go to the Plant-science-blog (Added on 7/4/2009 10:50:23 PM)
Learning from locustsA similarity in brain disturbance between insects and people suffering from migraines, stroke and epilepsy points the way toward new drug therapies to address these conditions.
Queen's University biologists studying the locust have observed that these human disorders are linked by a brain disturbance during which nerve cells shut down. This also occurs in locusts when they go into a coma after exposure to extreme conditions such as high........Go to the Animal-science-blog (Added on 7/2/2009 10:05:14 PM)
Prairie dogs and plants?Prairie dogs may seem like harmless little creatures, but they can inflict serious injury on plants simply by snacking on them. Plants cannot flee from their furry predators, so how do they avoid becoming a prairie dog's lunch?.
Dr. John Freeman and his colleagues explore the role of metal hyperaccumulation in plant defense in the June 2009 issue of the American Journal of Botany Certain plants species growing on soils with high metal........Go to the Animal-science-blog (Added on 6/23/2009 5:00:21 PM)