Built In Compass Helps Bats Find Their Way HomeBats have a novel device for guiding them home on starless nights. In addition to their well-known sensory talents, it seems that big brown bats can tune into the Earth's magnetic field, using it as a compass to guide them to roost.
This ability comes in handy on long-distance flights, where their usual mode of navigation - bouncing sounds waves off objects using ultrasound - doesn't do much good.
Richard Holland from Princeton........Go to the Animal-science-blog (Added on 12/8/2006 5:01:34 AM)
Measuring Carbon Without Destroying TreesUSDA Forest Service (FS) scientists have provided the first proof of concept for a method that allows researchers to study below-ground carbon allocation in trees without destroying them. In the latest issue of the journal Plant, Cell and Environment, Kurt Johnsen and fellow scientists at the FS Southern Research Station unit in Research Triangle Park, NC, describe a reversible, non-destructive chilling method that stops the movement of carbon........Go to the Plant-science-blog (Added on 12/5/2006 8:36:50 PM)
Stretch A DNA LoopIt may look like mistletoe wrapped around a flexible candy cane. But this molecular model shows how some proteins form loops in DNA when they chemically attach, or bind, at separate sites to the double-helical molecule that carries life's genetic blueprint.
Biologists have discovered that the physical manifestation of DNA loops are a consequence of a number of biochemical processes in the cell, such as the regulation of gene expression. In........Go to the Biology-blog (Added on 12/5/2006 8:17:42 PM)
Clues to Pregnancy in Male PipefishGenetic archaeology is providing a new clue to one of the greatest gender mysteries in the fish world: how did male pregnancy evolve in a family of fish?
A gene discovered in the gulf pipefish hints that a gene already busy with kidney and liver function may have learned new tricks in the male womb, said April Harlin-Cognato, a biologist at Michigan State University, and her colleagues. Their research results, funded by the National Science........Go to the Animal-science-blog (Added on 12/4/2006 10:03:06 PM)
Zebra stripesZebra stripes are typically black stripes on white background.These stripes are typically vertical on the head, neck, forequarters, and main body, with horizontal stripes at the rear and on the legs of the animal. The zebra crossing is named after the zebra's white on black stripes.
Zoologists think that the stripes act as a camouflage mechanism. This is accomplished in several ways. First, the vertical striping helps the zebra hide in........Go to the Animal-science-blog (Added on 11/30/2006 9:27:46 PM)
Placement Of Rainforest TreesThe apple might not fall far from the tree, but new research shows that how it falls might be what is most important in determining tree distribution across a forest. This study of the seed dispersal methods of rainforest trees demonstrates that these methods play a primary role in the organization of plant species in tropical forests.
Joshua B. Plotkin, a junior fellow in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Harvard University, and co-author........Go to the Plant-science-blog (Added on 11/29/2006 5:05:06 AM)
Old Engravings Of Animals Are Charmingly StrangeMark Frauenfelder:
Bibliodyssey has an excellent gallery of 18th century engravings from 'Die Saugthiere in Abbildungen' at Ecole Nationale Veterinaire de Lyon (named as 'Histoire naturelle des quadrupedes'.
The absurd rendering of a number of of the animals comes about because the engravers/artists working on the project did not actually see the animals. They had to rely on descriptions and their imagination and, as was the fashion of........Go to the Animal-science-blog (Added on 11/28/2006 8:46:46 PM)
Humpback Whale Brain CellsCetaceans, the group of marine mammals that includes whales and dolphins, have demonstrated remarkable auditory and communicative abilities, as well as complex social behaviors. A new study published online November 27, 2006 in The Anatomical Record, the official journal of the American Association of Anatomists,compared a humpback whale brain with brains from several other cetacean species and found the presence of a certain type of neuron........Go to the Animal-science-blog (Added on 11/27/2006 4:46:02 AM)
Dramatic Shift In Marine Ecosystems Occurred 250m Years AgoThe earth experienced its biggest mass extinction about 250 million years ago, an event that wiped out an estimated 95% of marine species and 70% of land species. New research shows that this mass extinction did more than eliminate species: it fundamentally changed the basic ecology of the world's oceans.
Ecologically simple marine communities were largely displaced by complex communities. Furthermore, this apparently abrupt shift set a new........Go to the Animal-science-blog (Added on 11/26/2006 7:56:41 AM)
Serengeti Patrols Cut Poaching Of Buffalo, Elephants, Rhinos A technique used since the 1930s to estimate the abundance of fish has demonstrated for the first time that enforcement patrols are effective at reducing poaching of elephants, African buffaloes and black rhinos in the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania.
"Wildlife within protected areas is under increasing threat from the bushmeat and illegal trophy trades, and a number of argue that enforcement within protected areas is not sufficient to........Go to the Animal-science-blog (Added on 11/26/2006 7:41:04 AM)
How Many Cubs Does A Black Bear Have?Litter size ranges from 1 to 4 young, averaging from 1.4 in Arkansas to 3.0 in Pennsylvania. First litters may be small, sometimes a single cub. Two or 3 cubs are typical thereafter. Five-cub litters are uncommon; extraordinary litters of 6 cubs have been reported in Manitoba and Pennsylvania. Average litter sizes in 2 Massachusetts study areas were 2.0 and 3.0. Two 5-cub litters have been reported in Massachusetts, once in the den and another........Go to the Animal-science-blog (Added on 11/22/2006 5:02:20 AM)
Origins of LifeThe origin of life lies in unique ocean reefs, and researchers from the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science have developed an approach to help investigate them better. A new article reported in the recent issue of Geology reveals how Dr. Miriam Andres' stromatolite investigation - the first of its kind - has begun to "fingerprint" ancient microbial pathways, increasing the understanding of how these reef-like........Go to the Biology-blog (Added on 11/20/2006 5:16:51 AM)
Wnt Reactivates Dormant Limb Regeneration Chop off a salamander's leg and a brand new one will sprout in no time. But most animals have lost the ability to replace missing limbs. Now, a research team at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies has been able to regenerate a wing in a chick embryo a species not known to be able to regrow limbs - suggesting that the potential for such regeneration exists innately in all vertebrates, including humans.
Their study, reported in the........Go to the Biology-blog (Added on 11/19/2006 9:30:09 PM)
Fighting Like A Girl Or BoyFighting like a girl or fighting like a boy is hardwired into fruit fly neurons, as per a research studyin the Nov. 19 Nature Neuroscience advance online publication by a research team from Harvard Medical School and the Institute of Molecular Pathology in Vienna. The results confirm that a gene known as "fruitless" is a key factor underlying sexual differences in behavior. The findings mark a milestone in an unlikely new animal model for........Go to the Animal-science-blog (Added on 11/19/2006 8:57:02 PM)
Different Coat Color doesn't Mean Different SpeciesScientists have observed that lemurs suspected to belong to different species because of their strikingly different coat colors, are not only genetically alike, but belong to the same species.
Historically, species classification has been based on comparison of visible physical characteristics of plants or animals. Kellie Heckman, a post-doctoral fellow in ecology and evolutionary biology at Yale, and her colleagues at other universities,........Go to the Animal-science-blog (Added on 11/16/2006 9:45:49 PM)
Where Chimp And Human Brains DivergeSix million years ago, chimpanzees and humans diverged from a common ancestor and evolved into unique species. Now UCLA scientists have identified a new way to pinpoint the genes that separate us from our closest living relative and make us uniquely human. The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reports the study in its Nov. 13 online edition.
"We share more than 95 percent of our genetic blueprint with chimps," explained Dr.........Go to the Animal-science-blog (Added on 11/13/2006 9:08:15 PM)
Researchers Deciphering Flu VirusAs the Northern Hemisphere braces for another flu season, researchers at Florida State University's National High Magnetic Field Laboratory are making strides toward better understanding the mechanics of the virus that causes it -- a virus that kills between one-quarter and one-half million people each year.
Tim Cross, director of the lab's Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) program, and collaborators from Brigham Young University are trying........Go to the Biology-blog (Added on 11/10/2006 4:43:44 AM)
Spectacular dinosaur skull comes back to AlbertaA "spectacular beast" is coming back to its original stomping grounds and making a new home at the University of Alberta--a coup that will allow its scientists to study the rare dinosaur skull up close.
"This is a very dramatic beast," said Dr. Michael Caldwell, a palaeontolgist who was instrumental in getting the skull to the U of A. "What we will have is a cast, but the specimen is one of a kind in the world. This is the last cast from the........Go to the Animal-science-blog (Added on 11/7/2006 10:05:53 PM)
Green Plants Share Bacterial ToxinA toxin that can make bacterial infections turn deadly is also found in higher plants, researchers at UC Davis, the Marine Biology Laboratory at Woods Hole, Mass. and the University of Nebraska have found. Lipid A, the core of endotoxin, is located in the chloroplasts, structures that carry out photosynthesis within plant cells.
The lipid A in plant cells is evidently not toxic. The human intestine contains billions of Gram-negative........Go to the Plant-science-blog (Added on 11/7/2006 4:19:51 AM)
Where Seeds Store IronBiologists have learned where and how some plant seeds store iron, a valuable discovery for scientists working to improve the iron content of plants. Their research helps address the worldwide problem of iron deficiency and malnutrition in humans.
The team found that iron is stored in the developing vascular system of the seed of Arabidopsis, a model plant used in research. In particular, iron is stored in the vacuole, a plant cell's central........Go to the Plant-science-blog (Added on 11/2/2006 8:53:26 PM)
Unusual Deep Sea AnimalsWe are all familiar with dolphins, whales and sharks; we know what tuna and snapper look like, but what about some less familiar fish such as lizardfish, giant squid, or blind eels? There are so a number of lesser known animals in the depths of the ocean that we hear little or nothing about most times, it is interesting to investigate a few of these creatures and understand them a little more.
The first on our list of deep sea creatures is........Go to the Animal-science-blog (Added on 12/10/2006 5:39:35 PM)
What Does Giraffe Eat?The giraffe browses on the twigs of trees, preferring plants of the Mimosa genus; but it appears that it can live without inconvenience on other vegetable food. A giraffe can eat 63 kg (140 lb) of leaves and twigs daily.
The pace of the giraffe is an amble, though when pursued it can run extremely fast. It can not sustain a lengthened chase. Its leg length compels an unusual gait with the left legs moving together followed by right (similar........Go to the Animal-science-blog (Added on 12/5/2006 8:44:02 PM)
Rise In California TemperaturesIncreasing temperatures in California during the next 45 years could negatively affect the amount of almonds, walnuts, oranges, avocados and table grapes that Americans put on their tables.
As per new research in the journal Agricultural and Forest Meteorology, production losses in some of California's most popular crops could be as high as 40 percent by mid-century.
In the study, scientists from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory........Go to the Plant-science-blog (Added on 12/5/2006 5:00:14 AM)
Theory Of Oscillations May Explain Biological MysteriesNew mathematical studies of the interactions between oscillating biological populations may shed light on some of the toughest questions in ecology, including the number and types of species in an ecosystem, according to an article in the December 2006 issue of BioScience. The article, by John Vandermeer of the University of Michigan, shows how extensions of established theory suggest that many animal and plant populations oscillate in........Go to the Biology-blog (Added on 12/1/2006 5:08:16 AM)
Potential For Biodiversity ManagementWhile global protected areas, including nature reserves, parks, and areas protected by treaties, protect some aspects of biodiversity, shortcomings remain: the areas only cover certain habitats and local people often resent their formal management. Natural sacred sites exist in a number of countries around the world, with communities often sharing and managing sites that are not under formal protection. Such sites cover a wide variety of........Go to the Plant-science-blog (Added on 12/1/2006 4:22:27 AM)
Save the whales? Sure, but how many?How a number of wildebeest should live in the Serengeti" How a number of grizzly bears should call Yellowstone home" Are there too few tigers in the world" Conservationist biologists grapple with the task of setting population targets for the species they are trying to protect a decision steeped in politics, emotion, and sometimes, science.
In a new paper appearing in the journal Bioscience, the New York-based Wildlife Conservation........Go to the Animal-science-blog (Added on 11/29/2006 9:39:06 PM)
Biocontrol of wavyleaf thistle being studied in TexasWavy leaf thistle was difficult to find along Panhandle highways five years ago. But now the noxious weed can be found moving into pastures, said a Texas Agricultural Experiment Station researcher.
Dr. Jerry Michels, Experiment Station entomologist at Bushland, along with Nagendra Earle, a West Texas A&M University graduate student, began looking at controlling the intruding noxious weed with natural controls about two years ago.
Michels'........Go to the Plant-science-blog (Added on 11/28/2006 4:53:36 AM)
Perennial wheat researchAnnual wheat, which is traditionally grown in the Great Plains, is planted in the fall and dies after harvest in mid-summer. But Dr. Charlie Rush, Experiment Station plant pathologist, is testing some perennial lines of wheat bred in Washington state.
These perennial lines regrow after harvest and may survive for up to five years, Rush said. And eastern Washington is climatically similar to the Texas Panhandle, except it has harsher winters.........Go to the Plant-science-blog (Added on 11/28/2006 4:44:32 AM)
Wheat Gene To Boost Foods' Nutrient ContentScientists at the University of California, Davis; the U.S. Department of Agriculture; and the University of Haifa in Israel have cloned a gene from wild wheat that increases the protein, zinc and iron content in the grain, potentially offering a solution to nutritional deficiencies affecting hundreds of millions of children around the world.
Results from the study will be published in the Nov. 24 issue of the journal Science.
"Wheat is........Go to the Plant-science-blog (Added on 11/26/2006 7:52:18 AM)
The Power Behind Insect FlightScientists from Rensselaer and the University of Vermont have discovered a key molecular mechanism that allows tiny flies and other "no-see-ums" to whirl their wings at a dizzying rate of up to 1,000 times per second. The findings were reported in last week's online early edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).
"We have determined important details of the biochemical reaction by which the fastest known muscle........Go to the Animal-science-blog (Added on 11/22/2006 5:11:45 AM)
Clues From Dragonfly About Human ObesityParasite-infected dragonflies suffer the same metabolic disorders that have led to an epidemic of obesity and type-2 diabetes in humans, reveal the findings of research conducted at Penn State University that are due would be published in the 5 December 2006 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science and also in the PNAS early online edition at www.pnas.org on 21 November. The discovery expands the known taxonomic breadth of........Go to the Animal-science-blog (Added on 11/21/2006 5:13:27 AM)
Monarch Butterfly Migration And Forest RestorationUSDA Forest Service (FS) research in the Ouachita Mountains of Arkansas suggests that decades of fire suppression have reduced the area's food supply for migrating monarch butterflies-and that restoration efforts that include prescribed burning can reverse this trend. Craig Rudolph and Ron Thill, research ecologists with the FS Southern Research Station (SRS), along with SRS ecologists Charles Ely, Richard Schaefer and J. Howard Williamson,........Go to the Animal-science-blog (Added on 11/20/2006 5:12:03 AM)
Which Wasps Are Bad LosersWasps have more than just a sting in their tail as per new research published this week in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, they also carry the insect version of pepper spray in their heads, which they can release when fighting other wasps. The research not only gives us a fascinating insight into insect behaviour but could also help us to use wasps to kill crop destroying pests.
For the first time scientists, funded by the........Go to the Animal-science-blog (Added on 11/19/2006 9:01:39 PM)
Emperor Penguin PhysiologyLong before they lit up movie screens in animated feature films or enthralled documentary film audiences worldwide with the story of their endless struggle to survive and reproduce, Emperor penguins intrigued early Antarctic explorers.
As movie makers prepare this weekend to release "Happy Feet," about an animated Emperor who loves to dance, and the Hallmark Channel readies the cable-television premier of the documentary "March of the........Go to the Animal-science-blog (Added on 11/16/2006 9:53:39 PM)
Key To Controlling Gypsy Moth SpreadControlling population peaks on the edges of the gypsy moth range may help to slow their invasion into virgin territory, as per a team of researchers.
"Slowing the spread of the gypsy moth is a priority in forest management in the U.S.," says Ottar Bjornstad, associate professor of entomology and biology, Penn State. "Understanding the underlying patterns in the spread of invasive species is important for successful management".
The........Go to the Animal-science-blog (Added on 11/16/2006 4:58:40 AM)
New Way To Manipulate DNAPolymers, large molecules comprised of chains of repeating structures, are used in everything from the coatings on walls of ships and pipes to reduce flow drag to gene treatment.
But long polymer chains are subject to breakage, called scission, and a new study by the University of Michigan shows that as it turns out, much of what researchers previously thought about why polymers break when subjected to strong flows, such as waves crashing........Go to the Biology-blog (Added on 11/15/2006 9:35:52 PM)
Sea Urchin Genome And HumanThe Sea Urchin Genome Sequencing Project (SUGSP) Consortium, led by the Human Genome Sequencing Center at Baylor College of Medicine (BCM-HGSC) in Houston, announced recently the decoding and analysis of the genome sequence of the sea urchin, Strongylocentrotus purpuratus.
The genome of a male California purple sea urchin was sequenced, and it contained over 814 million letters, spelling out 23,300 genes. Nearly 10,000 of the genes were........Go to the Animal-science-blog (Added on 11/10/2006 4:08:59 AM)
Two Nerve Cells in Direct ContactFor the first time, researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Neurobiology in Martinsried near Munich have been able to show how two nerve cells communicate with each other from different hemispheres in the visual centre. This astoundingly simple circuit diagram could at a later date provide a model for algorithms to be deployed in technical systems (Nature Neuroscience).
Movements in space create in humans and animals so-called optical........Go to the Animal-science-blog (Added on 11/7/2006 10:36:05 PM)
Cambodia moves to protect endangered birdIn an effort to protect a large grassland bird from possible extinction, the government of Cambodia has recently moved to set aside more than one hundred square miles of habitat for the Bengal florican, a bird now classified as endangered, as per the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS).
The Bengal florican--a type of bustard--is restricted to tiny fragments of grassland scattered across Cambodia, Vietnam, Nepal and India, which are........Go to the Animal-science-blog (Added on 11/7/2006 4:31:30 AM)
You Can't Judge Biodiversity By Its BirdThe canary in the coal mine, the supposed harbinger of threat for all those around it, isn't as true as it seemed for biodiversity conservation, as per a sweeping study in which a Michigan State University ornithologist participated.
A global group of researchers including Pamela Rasmussen, of the Department of Zoology, has done the most detailed study yet of how rare and threatened species of birds, mammals and amphibians are distributed........Go to the Animal-science-blog (Added on 11/2/2006 5:13:23 AM)