Climate change is predicted to have major impacts on the many species that call our rocky shorelines home. Indeed, species living in these intertidal habitats, which spend half their day exposed to air and the other half submerged by water, may be subjected to a double whammy as both air and water temperatures rise. Given the reliance of human society on nearshore coastal ecosystems, it is critical that we better understand how climate change will affect them.
Each fall, millions of monarch butterflies make a spectacular journey from the eastern parts of North America to reach their overwintering grounds in Mexico. Researchers have long known that not all butterflies successfully reach their destination. Now scientists provide some crucial answers on what it takes for Monarchs to complete the trip. It turns out - it's all in the wings.
A new class of proteins capable of blocking the HIV virus from penetrating T-cells has been discovered. The proteins, found in a coral from Australia's northern coast, could be well-suited for use in gels or sexual lubricants to provide a potent barrier against HIV infection, potentially filling a pressing need for a female-applied anti-HIV microbicide that doesn't rely on a man's willingness to use a condom.
Hormone disrupting pollutants are affecting the health and development of wild birds nesting along the urban rivers of South Wales, new research shows. Findings reveal that chicks of the Eurasian Dipper -- a river bird that feeds exclusively on insects and fish in upland streams -- are underweight compared to their rural counterparts. Also of concern is that birds nesting in urban rivers have altered hormone levels, and are hatching fewer female chicks than those nesting along rural rivers, which could have negative implications for the population’s breeding and survival.
Five anthropogenic factors that will radically alter forest conditions and management needs in the Northern United States have been outlined in a new report. "The northern quadrant of the United States includes 172 million acres of forest land and 124 million people," said one researcher. This report "is helping identify the individual and collective steps needed to ensure healthy and resilient futures for trees and people alike."
A review of recent research on the domestication of large herbivores suggests that neither intentional breeding nor genetic isolation were as significant as traditionally thought. "Our findings show little control of breeding, particularly of domestic females, and indicate long-term gene flow, or interbreeding, between managed and wild animal populations," a co-author said.
Methane-producing microbes may be responsible for the largest mass extinction in Earth's history. Fossil remains show that sometime around 252 million years ago, about 90 percent of all species on Earth were suddenly wiped out -- by far the largest of this planet's five known mass extinctions. It turns out that Methanosarcina had acquired a particularly fast means of making methane, and the team's detailed mapping of the organism's history now shows that this transfer happened at about the time of the end-Permian extinction.
Researchers have found that the deep ocean currents that move heat around the globe stalled or even stopped about 950,000 years ago, possibly due to expanding ice cover in the north. The slowing currents increased carbon dioxide storage in the ocean, leaving less in the atmosphere, which kept temperatures cold and kicked the climate system into a new phase of colder but less frequent ice ages, they hypothesize.
As forests age, their ability to grow decreases, because energy production (photosynthesis) and energy consumption (respiration) decrease with age, a new study has determined. Since most US forests are maturing from regeneration that began about 100 years ago when extensive clear-cutting occurred, the study suggests the future growth of US forests will decline.
Australia's koalas cope with extreme heat by resting against cooler tree trunks, new research has revealed. Researchers used a portable weather station and thermal imaging to uncover the koalas' cool plan. "Understanding the types of factors that can make some populations more resilient is important," one researcher said. Koalas also pant and lick their fur to cool down, but that can lead to dehydration.
When fuel prices drove residents of São Paulo, Brazil, to mostly switch from ethanol to gasoline in their flexible-fuel vehicles, local ozone levels dropped 20 percent. At the same time, nitric oxide and carbon monoxide concentrations tended to go up. The four-year study by an economist and a chemist is the first real-world trial looking at the effects of human behavior at the pump on urban air pollution.
Scientists were greatly surprised to discover an ancient tundra landscape preserved under the Greenland Ice Sheet, below two miles of ice. This finding provides strong evidence that the ice sheet has persisted much longer than previously known, enduring through many past periods of global warming.
Researchers have published the first comprehensive, large-scale data set on how the brain of a mammal is wired, providing a groundbreaking data resource and fresh insights into how the nervous system processes information. Their landmark paper describes the publicly available Allen Mouse Brain Connectivity Atlas and demonstrates the exciting knowledge that can be gleaned from this valuable resource.
On average, organic farms support 34 percent more plant, insect and animal species than conventional farms, say scientists. Researchers looked at data going back 30 years and found that this effect has remained stable over time and shows no signs of decreasing.