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“The more we nurture the planet, the better and more natural a life we'll have.”  Chris d'Lacey, Icefire
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The beautiful languages of the people who talk like birds

The beautiful languages of the people who talk like birds | Gaia Diary | Scoop.it
Their unusual whistled speech may reveal what humanity’s first words sounded like.
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Acidified ocean water widespread along North American West Coast

Acidified ocean water widespread along North American West Coast | Gaia Diary | Scoop.it
A three-year survey of the California Current System along the West Coast of the United States found persistent, highly acidified water throughout this ecologically critical nearshore habitat, with 'hotspots' of pH measurements as low as any oceanic surface waters in the world.
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New details on nest preferences of declining sparrow

New details on nest preferences of declining sparrow | Gaia Diary | Scoop.it
Theory says that birds should choose nest sites that minimize their risk of predation, but studies often fail to show a connection between nest site selection and nest survival. Understanding these relationships can be key for managing declining species, and a new study from The Condor: Ornithological Applications explores the nest site preferences of Bachman's sparrow, a vulnerable songbird dependent on regularly burned longleaf pine forests in the southeastern US.
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Where have all the insects gone?

Where have all the insects gone? | Gaia Diary | Scoop.it
Surveys in German nature reserves point to a dramatic decline in insect biomass
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Eben Lenderking's curator insight, May 29, 3:42 PM

Worth it for the pictures alone.

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Satellites capture coral bleaching of Great Barrier Reef from space

Satellites capture coral bleaching of Great Barrier Reef from space | Gaia Diary | Scoop.it
The corals of the Great Barrier Reef have undergone two bleaching events in successive years, raising experts' concerns about coral reef survival under global-warming induced events.
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Capturing the Earth as art

Capturing the Earth as art | Gaia Diary | Scoop.it

"A program sponsored by NASA has enabled school students around the world to remotely point and shoot a special camera on the International Space Station."


via @Inongo_

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El Niño: Pacific Wind and Current Changes Bring Warm, Wild Weather

El Niño: Pacific Wind and Current Changes Bring Warm, Wild Weather | Gaia Diary | Scoop.it
El Niño is one of the most important weather-producing phenomena on Earth. The changing ocean conditions disrupt weather patterns and marine life in the Pacific and around the world. Satellites are unraveling the many traits of this wild child of weather.
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The Science Behind the Flamingo’s One-Legged Stance

The Science Behind the Flamingo’s One-Legged Stance | Gaia Diary | Scoop.it
Flamingos don’t appear to need to flex their muscles to maintain their classic one-legged posture, a new study suggests.
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Scientists discover dolphins speech complexity is almost as high as in humans

Scientists discover dolphins speech complexity is almost as high as in humans | Gaia Diary | Scoop.it

Dolphins are capable of “highly developed spoken language” which closely resembles human communication, scientists have suggested.  While it has long been acknowledged dolphins are of high intelligence and can communicate within a larger pack, their ability to converse with each other individually has been less understood.

 

But researchers at the Karadag Nature Reserve, Feodosia, Crimea, believe the pulses, clicks and whistles – of up to five “words” – made by dolphins are listened to fully by another before a response is made. 

 
 

“Essentially, this exchange resembles a conversation between two people,” wrote lead researcher Dr Vyacheslav Ryabov in the study,published in the journal Mathematics and Physics. Dr Ryabov said each pulse produced by a dolphin “is different from another” in its time span and the frequencies it emits. 

 

“In this regard, we can assume that each pulse represents a phoneme or a word of the dolphin’s spoken language,” Dr Ryabov wrote. However: “The dolphin’s speech unfortunately lies beyond the time and frequency characteristics of the human hearing, and is thus unavailable to humans.”


Via Levin Chin, Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
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Wolves need space to roam to control expanding coyote populations

Wolves need space to roam to control expanding coyote populations | Gaia Diary | Scoop.it
Wolves and other top predators need large ranges to be able to control smaller predators whose populations have expanded to the detriment of a balanced ecosystem.

That's the main finding of a study appearing May 23 in Nature Communications that analyzed the relationship between top predators on three different continents and the next-in-line predators they eat and compete with. The results were similar across continents, showing that as top predators' ranges were cut back and fragmented, they were no longer able to control smaller predators.

"Our paper suggests it will require managing for top predator persistence across large landscapes, rather than just in protected areas, in order to restore natural predator-predator interactions," said co-author Aaron Wirsing, an associate professor at the University of Washington's School of Environmental and Forest Sciences.

Gray wolves historically lived across vast swaths of North America, particularly in the western states and Canadian provinces. Coyotes, a smaller predator kept in check by wolves, appear to have been scarce in areas once dominated by wolves. As human development shrank territories for wolves, however, the wolf populations became fragmented and wolves no longer had the numbers or space to control coyotes, whose populations in turn grew.
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Racing to Find Answers in the Ice

Racing to Find Answers in the Ice | Gaia Diary | Scoop.it
Scientists are sprinting to understand what is happening in West Antarctica as the planet warms around it.
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Life in the Precambrian may have been much livelier than previously thought

Life in the Precambrian may have been much livelier than previously thought | Gaia Diary | Scoop.it
The Garden of the Ediacaran was a period in the ancient past when Earth's shallow seas were populated with a bewildering variety of enigmatic, soft-bodied creatures. Scientists have pictured it as a tranquil, almost idyllic interlude that lasted from 635 to 540 million years ago. But a new interdisciplinary study suggests that the organisms living at the time may have been much more dynamic than experts have thought.

Scientists have found It extremely difficult to fit these Precambrian species into the tree of life. That is because they lived in a time before organisms developed the ability to make shells or bones. As a result, they didn't leave much fossil evidence of their existence behind, and even less evidence that they moved around. So, experts have generally concluded that virtually all of the Ediacarans—with the possible exception of a few organisms similar to jellyfish that floated about—were stationary and lived out their adult lives fixed in one place on the sea floor.

The new findings concern one of the most enigmatic of the Ediacaran genera, a penny-sized organism called Parvancorina, which ischaracterized by a series of ridges on its back that form the shape of a tiny anchor. By analyzing the way in which water flows around Parvancorina's body, an international team of researchers has concluded that these ancient creatures must have been mobile: specifically, they must have had the ability to orient themselves to face into the current flowing around them. That would make them the oldest species known to possess this capability, which scientists call rheotaxis.
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ESF lists Top 10 new species for 2017

ESF lists Top 10 new species for 2017 | Gaia Diary | Scoop.it
A spider and an ant with names drawn from popular books, a pink katydid and an omnivorous rat made the College of Environmental Science and Forestry's list of the Top 10 New Species for 2017. Also listed: a freshwater stingray, a bush tomato that appears to 'bleed,' a devilish-looking orchid, a millipede with more than 400 legs, an amphibious centipede and a marine worm.
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Faceless fish among weird deep sea Australian finds

Faceless fish among weird deep sea Australian finds | Gaia Diary | Scoop.it
Faceless fish and other weird and wonderful creatures, many of them new species, have been hauled up from the deep waters off Australia during a scientific voyage studying parts of the ocean never explored before.

The month-long journey off the country's eastern seaboard has been surveying life lurking in a dark and cold abyss that plunges four kilometres (2.5 miles) below the surface, using nets, sonar and deep-sea cameras.

Chief scientist on board "The Investigator" Tim O'Hara from Museums Victoria told AFP Wednesday the search area was "the most unexplored environment on earth".

Bright red spiky rock crabs, puffed-up coffinfish, blind sea spiders and deep sea eels have been collected since the scientists began their voyage—from Launceston in Tasmania north towards the Coral Sea—on May 15.
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Climate change can alter the impact of forest pathogens in trees

Climate change can alter the impact of forest pathogens in trees | Gaia Diary | Scoop.it
New research on projected climate changes from the University of Helsinki indicates that climate change has an alarming potential to increase the damage caused to Norway spruce trees by a naturally circulating disease spreading fungus.
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Papua New Guinea expedition discovers largest trees at extreme altitudes

Papua New Guinea expedition discovers largest trees at extreme altitudes | Gaia Diary | Scoop.it
The first field campaign surveying Papua New Guinea's lush primary forests from the coast to clouds has revealed the high mountain tops may house the largest trees recorded globally at such extreme altitudes.

The study - which involved The University of Queensland's Dr John Dwyer and James Cook University's Professor Michael Bird - was led by Dr Michelle Venter, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Northern British Columbia, Canada.

"The study may force a re-think of what we know about the ideal environments for growing very large trees," said Dr Dwyer, a UQ School of Biological Sciences' lecturer and CSIRO researcher.

Dr Venter led seven field expeditions in areas far from roads and villages, with the help of more than 70 field assistants from five forest-dependent communities, working on slopes of up to 88 degrees.
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Biodiversity. But what is it?

Biodiversity. But what is it? | Gaia Diary | Scoop.it
Biodiversity is one of the less well-described aspects of environmental change when it comes to metrics for guiding, enforcing and refining efforts to sustain it
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QIU NINGYU's comment, May 27, 10:38 PM
Before talking about preserving biodiversity, we have to understand it, and by understanding the value that it hold onto, we will be more willing to put in effort to preserve it. Under natural situation, the more species in an ecosystem, the less likely the ecosystem will be affected due to changes in a few species. Biodiversity is one of the foundations for a stable natural environment. People, in order to fulfill their wants, such as food, medicine, entertainment and even poaching without a clear purpose had already result in a large collection of lifes to be endangered. Also as development progresses, pollution of the environment is a serious problem as it is damaging many special habitats such as swamps, wetlands, lagoons and rainforests which had in turn endangered many animals by destroying their homes. Human behold to the various species of mother nature, preserving biodiversity is for the well being of all, hence everyone should play their part so as not to jeopardize the needs of our future generations.
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Thinking big gives top predators the competitive edge

Thinking big gives top predators the competitive edge | Gaia Diary | Scoop.it
Re-introducing or restoring top predators, like dingoes and wolves, be vital in suppressing the abundance of lower-order competitors but only if we let enough
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'My worst nightmares are coming true': last major primeval forest in Europe on 'brink of collapse'

'My worst nightmares are coming true': last major primeval forest in Europe on 'brink of collapse' | Gaia Diary | Scoop.it
Polish government is accused of pushing Białowieża forest ecosystem to point of no return with state-sanctioned logging in Unesco world heritage site
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Inside the Svalbard Global Seed Vault

Inside the Svalbard Global Seed Vault | Gaia Diary | Scoop.it
The Svalbard Global Seed Vault, a safeguard of the world’s most important crops, flooded after permafrost surrounding the entrance thawed in Norway. Look inside in 360 degrees.
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Gynandromorphs: Half Male, Half Female Animals

Gynandromorphs: Half Male, Half Female Animals | Gaia Diary | Scoop.it

As they often do after a rainstorm, butterflies had gathered around puddles on Pigeon Mountain in northwest Georgia. Nets in hand, James Adams and his friend Irving Finkelstein watched the insects lapping up salts and proteins dissolved in the muddy water, their folded wings yawning apart now and then. There were silvery-blue Celastrinas and Skippers the color of cinnamon and ash. Largest of all were the Tiger Swallowtails—pastel lemon males with black dagger-like stripes and midnight-dark females with a dusting of evening cerulean.

 

Suddenly a very odd creature flitted past Adams and Finkelstein—a swallowtail unlike any they had ever seen. Its left half was yellow; its right, black. It was as though someone had sliced up two different insects and seamlessly sewn them back together. Finkelstein yelped and took a swipe at the bizarre beauty, missing by quite a bit. Suppressing his excitement, lest it misguide his hand, Adams chased the butterfly a few steps, swung, and netted it. He could see immediately that he had caught a gynandromorph—an animal that was half-male and half-female.

 

Butterfly collectors love gynandromorphs for their rarity as much as their peculiarity. They are unpredictable hiccups in nature’s symphony of symmetry. The creatures tantalize scientists, too, because they offer a unique opportunity: the chance to study typically male and female genes and anatomy in the same body.

 

For hundreds of years, naturalists have been documenting gynandromorphs among insects, spiders, lobsters, and birds. More recently, researchers—aided by increasingly sophisticated laboratory tools—have overturned reigning theories of sexual development by studying such hybrids. As has proven true time and again throughout the history of science, the creatures that seem strangest—those that are too odd, too asymmetrical to fit neatly into our presupposed categories—teach us the most about how all living things work. It turns out, for example, that the standard explanation of how a bird becomes male or female is wrong. Scientists came to this realization not by investigating scores of typical birds, but rather by examining a few gynandromorphs. It all started with an odd zebra finch.


Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
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Birds, bees and other critters have scruples, and for good reason

Birds, bees and other critters have scruples, and for good reason | Gaia Diary | Scoop.it
Humans are not the only species to show a strong work ethic and scruples. UC Berkeley researchers have found evidence of conscientiousness in insects, reptiles, birds, fish and other critters.
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3.3 million-year-old fossil reveals origins of the human spine

3.3 million-year-old fossil reveals origins of the human spine | Gaia Diary | Scoop.it
Analysis of a 3.3 million-year-old fossil skeleton reveals the most complete spinal column of any early human relative, including vertebrae, neck and rib cage. The findings, published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, indicate that portions of the human spinal structure that enable efficient walking motions were established millions of years earlier than previously thought.

The fossil, known as "Selam," is a nearly complete skeleton of a 2½ year-old child discovered in Dikika, Ethiopia in 2000 by Zeresenay (Zeray) Alemseged, professor of organismal biology and anatomy at the University of Chicago and senior author of the new study. Selam, which means "peace" in the Ethiopian Amharic language, was an early human relative from the species Australopithecus afarensis—the same species as the famous Lucy skeleton.

In the years since Alemseged discovered Selam, he and his lab assistant from Kenya, Christopher Kiarie, have been preparing the delicate fossil at the National Museum of Ethiopia. They slowly chipped away at the sandstone surrounding the skeleton and used advanced imaging tools to further analyze its structure.
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The World's Most Powerful Tidal Current: the Saltstraumen Maelstrom

Near Bodø in Norway, there's the strongest tidal current in the world: Saltstraumen Maelstrom, a constantly-changing rush of whirlpools, boils and vortices
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Herpetologists describe an elf frog from the elfin forests in southern Vietnam

Herpetologists describe an elf frog from the elfin forests in southern Vietnam | Gaia Diary | Scoop.it
Going under the common name of Elfin mountain toad, a new amphibian is recognized as one of the smallest representative of its group. The new species was identified from the highland wet forests of Langbian Plateau, Southern Vietnam. The discoverers gave it this name that derives from German and Celtic folklore because of the resemblance they found between the tiny delicate amphibians and elves - small magic creatures. Furthermore, their habitat is known as elfin forests.
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