If trees are capable of learning (and you can see they are just by observing them), then the question becomes: Where do they store what they have learned and how do they access this information? After all, they don’t have brains to function as databases and manage processes. It’s the same for all plants, and that’s why some scientists are skeptical and why many of them banish to the realm of fantasy the idea of plants’ ability to learn. But along comes the Australian scientist Monica Gagliano.
Gagliano studies mimosas, also called “sensitive plants.” Mimosas are tropical creeping herbs. They make particularly good research subjects, because it is easy to get them a bit riled up and they are easier to study in the laboratory than trees are. When they are touched, they close their feathery little leaves to protect themselves. Gagliano designed an experiment where individual drops of water fell on the plants’ foliage at regular intervals. At first, the anxious leaves closed immediately, but after a while, the little plants learned there was no danger of damage from the water droplets. After that, the leaves remained open despite the drops. Even more surprising for Gagliano was the fact that the mimosas could remember and apply their lesson weeks later, even without any further tests.
At an estimated 80% of beef cattle feeding operations in America farmers use artificial growth hormones to make the animals grow faster. But the practice is rare in the country's north-eastern states. Hilary Niles visited one farm in Vermont to find out why.
New website highlights the widespread problem of plastic debris
Microplastic pollution is widespread in many rivers flowing into the Great Lakes, according to U.S. Geological Survey scientists who recently took water samples from 29 Great Lakes tributaries in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and New York. The researchers found microplastics in all those streams, which together make up about 22 percent of the water flowing into the Great Lakes.
Earlier studies have found microplastics in the Great Lakes at similar concentrations as in some of the most polluted parts of the world’s oceans, as well as in the St. Lawrence River. And several other studies have found that microplastic pollution is pretty much everywhere.
For more than 40 years people believed the elusive Bactrian deer was extinct in Afghanistan, unsurprising considering the conflict across the country in that time. But then, unexpectedly, in 2013, ecologist Zalmai Moheb and a team of researchers caught a glimpse of one.
ey are the lifeblood of our planet, responsible for more than half of the oxygen we breathe. They regulate the climate, provide a major source of protein for 3 billion people, and millions of livelihoods — including 1 of every 6 jobs in the United States — are connected to the marine environment.
But the world’s oceans are under extreme duress, and humans are primarily to blame.
An engineer has arrived in the UK in his solar-powered tuk-tuk seven months after setting off from India on a 6,200 mile (9,978km) journey. Naveen Rabelli, 35, drove his auto-rickshaw off a ferry in Dover five days later than planned after his wallet and passport were stolen in Paris. He set off to raise awareness of electric and solar-powered vehicles.
A new study led by a University of Nebraska-Lincoln entomologist reinforces the link between neonicotinoid pesticides and declining honeybee colonies. The researchers experimentally fed queen bees with a syrup laced with imidacloprid, finding that queens laid significantly fewer eggs than queens in unexposed colonies.
“The queens are of particular importance because they’re the only reproductive individual laying eggs in the colony,” said lead author Judy Wu-Smart, assistant professor of entomology. “One queen can lay up to 1,000 eggs a day. If her ability to lay eggs is reduced, that is a subtle effect that isn’t (immediately) noticeable but translates to really dramatic consequences for the colony.”
A federal judge in Montana has once again ruled that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service violated the Endangered Species Act when it excluded Colorado from a critical habitat designation for threatened lynx. In the end, the rare cat may yet get some protected sanctuaries in the Colorado high county.
In a Sept. 7 ruling, Chief District Judge Dana L. Christensen said the agency’s decision is arbitrary and capricious, and “offends the ESA.” The court ordered the USFWS to develop a new critical habitat designation that complies with the law. The order also covers parts of Montana and Idaho.
TURPAN, China — It is an improbable journey that begins on the highest peaks of the Tianshan Mountains, where glacial snowmelt descends across one of the world’s most arid landscapes to reach the lush oasis communities of this ancient Silk Road outpost.
Powered by gravity, the water — pure and cold — makes the entire voyage underground, traveling through scores of subterranean channels, some of them 15 miles long and 100 feet deep, that were built 2,000 years ago by the pastoralists who settled this inhospitable corner of China’s far western Xinjiang region.
File photo of a rhino after it was dehorned in an effort to deter the poaching of one of the world's endangered species, at a farm outside Klerksdorp, South Africa. Thomson Reuters
The illegal wildlife trade is a massive business, and it's killing thousands of endangered species every year.
Rhinos are among the hardest hit. The horns fetch high prices on the black market — up to $60,000 per pound, far more than the price of gold. They're used to make elaborate carvings across East Asia and also believed to have curative properties in some traditional Eastern medicines, despite a lack of evidence.
Pembient, a Seattle-based biotech startup, is trying to solve the rhino poaching crisis with a 3D printer and some clever economics.
A Mongabay investigation found children as young as five employed in sawmills in Kenya’s Rift Valley, many from indigenous families evicted from their ancestral forest home. Government agencies and the timber industry have failed to acknowledge the children’s presence in the workforce.
Conservationists in New Zealand are sounding the alarm over a drop in the number of the famously inquisitive kea bird. There are thought to be between 1,000 and 5,000 of the alpine parrots left in New Zealand, and the Kea Conservation Trust says it's seen a fall in the population in the South Island's Hawdon Valley in recent years. "When you go up into the mountains, the numbers are really concerning," volunteer Mark Brabyn tells Stuff.co.nz. "We don't want to wait until there is only a couple of hundred left to do something."
""This was once one of the dirtiest areas in East Germany,” says Sören, my tour guide from IBA Tours, as our bikes swoosh through the Lusatian Lake District. “When I was growing up here, before the Wall fell, we never hung our laundry outside, and we never wore white socks, because we knew they wouldn’t be white after a few minutes. The coal dust was everywhere, all the time.”
More than 13,000 Indonesian seaweed farmers have launched a massive class action in Australia's federal court demanding compensation for the effects of Australia's worst oil spill. In August 2009 there was a huge explosion at an oil well in Australian waters in the Timor Sea. The well was run by a subsidiary of the state-owned Thai oil firm, PTT Exploration and Production Public Company (PTTEP). For more than 10 weeks enough oil to fill 10 Olympic-sized swimming pools spewed into the sea. Indonesian seaweed farmers on Rote Island, 250km (155 miles) away from the well, say the disaster devastated their livelihood. The BBC's Rebecca Henschke travelled to Rote Island to hear the stories of the people involved.
Everyone should support the humble bee. It's thought that every third bite of food we take is there because of pollination by bees. Honey, when raw and unprocessed, may even be used as a wound covering for burns and other injuries due to its antibiotic effect. Yet bees are in big trouble, and we still don't know all the reasons why. In the last decade, bee colonies are experiencing die-offs that have taken out a significant percentage of all the colonies in various areas.
The sharp decrease in the annual rates of forest loss in the Brazilian Amazon is celebrated worldwide. The trend started in 2005 after a peak in deforestation the year before. However, the figures are not so bright when it comes to forest fires, and few people are talking about that. The number of fires in the Brazilian Amazon is alarming, and that was especially true in 2015, when a sharp increase in forest fires occurred.
A growing number of food activists believe it’s time to move beyond limited or single-issue campaigning and lobbying and take on the entire degenerative food and farming system, starting with the malevolent profit-driver and lynchpin of industrial agriculture, GMOs and fast food: factory farming.
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