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ScienceDaily: Nature News
Nature. Read the latest scientific research on the natural world, ecology and climate change.
Marine reserves enhance resilience to climate change
Sun, 01 Dec 2013 17:43:43 EST
A new study highlights the potential for fish communities in marine reserves to resist climate change impacts better than communities on fished coasts.
Biodiversity higher in the tropics, but species more likely to arise at higher latitudes
Fri, 22 Nov 2013 13:24:24 EST
A study of 2300 species of mammals and 6700 species of birds helps explain why there are more species in the tropics than at higher latitudes. Researchers found that while the tropics harbor more species, the number of subspecies increases in the harsher environments typical of higher latitudes. The results suggest that the latitudinal diversity gradient may be due higher species turnover -- speciation counterbalanced by extinction -- towards the poles than near the equator.
Surprising diversity in aging revealed in nature
Sun, 08 Dec 2013 13:36:36 EST
In our youth we are strong and healthy and then we weaken and die -- that's probably how most would describe what aging is all about. But, in nature, the phenomenon of aging shows an unexpected diversity of patterns and is altogether rather strange, conclude researchers.
Beetles that live with ants: A remarkably large and colorful new species from Guyane
Tue, 03 Dec 2013 11:22:22 EST
The Pseudomorphini Tribe of the Family Carabidae is a group of extraordinary beetles reported to live with ants in the soil and in the rainforest canopy. Mostly dull colored and relatively small, scientists discovered the first species in the Western Hemisphere to astonish with great size and beautiful color pattern, more typical for representatives from Australia.
Experiment is first to simulate warming of Arctic permafrost
Thu, 05 Dec 2013 12:34:34 EST
Although vegetation growth in the Arctic is boosted by global warming, it’s not enough to offset the carbon released by the thawing of the permafrost beneath the surface, researchers have found in the first experiment in the Arctic environment to simulate thawing of permafrost in a warming world.
Even if emissions stop, carbon dioxide could warm Earth for centuries
Sun, 24 Nov 2013 20:05:05 EST
Research suggests that even if carbon-dioxide emissions came to a sudden halt, the carbon dioxide already in Earth's atmosphere could continue to warm our planet for hundreds of years. Thus, it might take a lot less carbon than previously thought to reach the global temperature scientists deem unsafe.
Arctic study shows key marine food web species at risk from increasing carbon dioxide
Mon, 02 Dec 2013 16:21:21 EST
A research expedition to the Arctic, as part of the Catlin Arctic Survey, has revealed that tiny crustaceans, known as copepods, that live just beneath the ocean surface are likely to battle for survival if ocean acidity continues to rise. The study found that copepods that move large distances, migrating vertically across a wide range of pH conditions, have a better chance of surviving.
First in-depth analysis of primate eating habits
Thu, 05 Dec 2013 22:00:00 EST
From insect-munching tamarins to leaf-loving howler monkeys, researchers have compiled the most thorough review of primate eating habits to date.
The last croak for Darwin's frog?
Wed, 20 Nov 2013 19:23:23 EST
Deadly amphibian disease chytridiomycosis has caused the extinction of Darwin's frogs, believe scientists.
Living desert underground: In perpetual darkness of limestone cave, surprisingly diverse ecosystem of microbes
Mon, 02 Dec 2013 16:22:22 EST
Researchers have discovered a surprisingly diverse ecosystem of microbes in a limestone cave near Tucson, Arizona, eking out a living from not much more than drip water, rock and air. The discovery not only expands our understanding of how microbes manage to colonize every niche on the planet but also could lead to applications ranging from environmental cleanup solutions to drug development.
Researchers find forests with bigger potential for carbon credit
Mon, 09 Dec 2013 08:55:55 EST
Using satellite images, researchers estimate the quantity of carbon that Mexican forests store and identify the species that best serve as a reservoir. This is relevant because the interest that organizations and enterprises have for giving, as an incentive, economic resources to countries with preserved forest zones (payment scheme of environmental services).
Better protection for mangroves with models for successful seedling establishment
Thu, 12 Dec 2013 09:55:55 EST
Seedlings of mangroves do not have an easy time to get established. Many forces of nature work against their anchorage in the soil. Human intervention in coastal areas and climate change also make life difficult for mangrove seedlings.
Himalayan flowers shed light on climate change
Tue, 03 Dec 2013 11:03:03 EST
Flower color in some parts of the world, including the Himalayas, has evolved to attract bees as pollinators, research has shown for the first time.
Avoiding poisons: A matter of bitter taste
Mon, 18 Nov 2013 16:00:00 EST
Researchers tested the hypothesis that herbivores -- and their plant diets -- have evolved to have greater number of Tas2r bitter taste receptor genes in their genomes than omnivores or carnivores. Their analyses supported the hypothesis, showing vertebrates can also be classified as herbivores, carnivores, or omnivores based on their Tas2r genetic profile.
Geoengineering approaches to reduce climate change unlikely to succeed
Thu, 05 Dec 2013 09:20:20 EST
Reducing the amount of sunlight reaching the planet’s surface by geoengineering may not undo climate change after all. Researchers used a simple energy balance analysis to explain how the Earth’s water cycle responds differently to heating by sunlight than it does to warming due to a stronger atmospheric greenhouse effect. Further, they show that this difference implies that reflecting sunlight to reduce temperatures may have unwanted effects on the Earth’s rainfall patterns.
New recommendations promote nature conservation in Barents Region
Wed, 11 Dec 2013 09:37:37 EST
The Barents Protected Area Network project involved an analysis of the current status of, and gaps in, the network of protected areas in the Barents Region in Finland. Based on the project's results, a set of joint recommendations has been drawn up for the Barents Region on how the protected area network should be developed in order to secure boreal biodiversity and ecosystem services, and adaptation to climate change. These jointly created recommendations concern the northern areas of Finland, Sweden, Norway and Northwest Russia.
New approach to identify possible ecological effects of releasing genetically engineered insects
Mon, 18 Nov 2013 13:30:30 EST
Researchers have developed a new approach for identifying potential environmental effects of deliberate releases of genetically engineered insects.
Rain as acidic as lemon juice may have contributed to ancient mass extinction
Mon, 25 Nov 2013 12:54:54 EST
Rain as acidic as undiluted lemon juice may have played a part in killing off plants and organisms around the world during the most severe mass extinction in Earth's history.
The collared treerunner is more than a single species
Mon, 25 Nov 2013 12:19:19 EST
The lowland tropics were once though filled with widespread species, while moderate and higher elevations were thought to contain species with more restricted distributions. That idea is turning out to be partially incorrect. A new study describes four species once considered to be the collared treerunner, a lizard known to the scientific community as Plica plica.
Quality of biodiversity, not just quantity, is key: Right mix of species is needed for conservation
Sun, 08 Dec 2013 09:06:06 EST
A new study of biodiversity loss in a salt marsh finds that it's not just the total number of species preserved that matters; it's the number of key species. If humans want to reap the benefits of the full range of functions that salt marshes and other coastal ecosystems provide, we need to preserve the right mix of species.
Five distinct humpback whale populations identified in North Pacific
Wed, 04 Dec 2013 09:16:16 EST
The first comprehensive genetic study of humpback whale populations in the North Pacific Ocean has identified five distinct populations -- at the same time a proposal to designate North Pacific humpbacks as a single "distinct population segment" is being considered under the Endangered Species Act.
Guard dogs reduce killing of threatened species
Tue, 26 Nov 2013 10:23:23 EST
Research has revealed that guarding dogs can significantly reduce conflict between livestock and large carnivores, such as cheetahs or leopards, helping to reduce unwarranted killing of endangered species in South Africa.
Biologists find an evolutionary Facebook for monkeys and apes
Mon, 18 Nov 2013 19:32:32 EST
Why do the faces of primates contain so many different colors, including black, blue, red, orange and white, mixed in all kinds of combinations, and often striking patterns? Biologists report on the faces of 139 African and Asian primate species that have been diversifying over some 25 million years.
Harlequin ladybugs escape enemies while native species succumb
Wed, 04 Dec 2013 09:11:11 EST
The astonishing success of the alien invasive harlequin ladybird (ladybug) in Britain has given a team of scientists a unique opportunity to investigate a key ecological theory – the Enemy Release Hypothesis.
Acid rain, ozone depletion contributed to ancient extinction
Fri, 22 Nov 2013 16:56:56 EST
Around 250 million years ago, at the end of the Permian period, there was a mass extinction so severe that it remains the most traumatic known species die-off in Earth's history. Some researchers have suggested that this extinction was triggered by contemporaneous volcanic eruptions in Siberia. New results show that the atmospheric effects of these eruptions could have been devastating.
'Arabidopsis' semidwarfs: The green revolution in nature
Wed, 04 Dec 2013 10:37:37 EST
During the so-called ‘green revolution’ of the sixties, a movement that changed agricultural practices in many crops around the world, techniques for genetic improvement were applied in order to obtain grain varieties which were shorter, more resistant and more productive. A study has found that some similar mutations to those which were artificially obtained during the green revolution also occur naturally in populations of the plant Arabidopsis thaliana.
New genomic study provides a glimpse of how whales could adapt to ocean
Sun, 24 Nov 2013 20:05:05 EST
Researchers have completed the first in-depth minke whale genome sequence and their new findings shed light on how whales successfully adapted to ocean environment. The data yielded in this study will contribute to future studies of marine mammal diseases, conservation and evolution.
Climate change may disrupt butterfly flight seasons
Thu, 21 Nov 2013 13:56:56 EST
The flight season timing of a wide variety of butterflies is responsive to temperature and could be altered by climate change, according to a new study that leverages more than a century's worth of museum and weather records.
How legless, leaping fish living on land avoids predators
Mon, 02 Dec 2013 10:53:53 EST
One of the world's strangest animals -- a legless, leaping fish that lives on land -- uses camouflage to avoid attacks by predators such as birds, lizards and crabs, new research shows. Researchers studied the unique fish -- Pacific leaping blennies -- in their natural habitat on the tropical island of Guam. These terrestrial fish spend all of their adult lives living on the rocks in the splash zone.
New genetic research finds shark, human proteins stunningly similar
Thu, 05 Dec 2013 16:58:58 EST
Despite widespread fascination with sharks, the world’s oldest ocean predators have long been a genetic mystery. The first deep dive into a great white shark’s genetic code has fished up big surprises behind a design so effective it has barely changed since before dinosaurs roamed.
Humans threaten wetlands' ability to keep pace with sea-level rise
Wed, 04 Dec 2013 13:20:20 EST
Left to themselves, coastal wetlands can withstand rapid levels of sea-level rise. But humans could be sabotaging some of their best defenses, according to a new review.
Scientists reveal the genomic enigma of desert poplar
Mon, 25 Nov 2013 10:11:11 EST
Scientists have succeeded in unraveling the whole genome sequence of desert poplar, Populus euphratica, and the genetic bases underlying poplar to against salt stress. This work provides new insights for understanding the genetic basis of tree adaptation to salt stress and facilitating the genetic breeding of cultivated poplars for saline fields.
Ancient 'fig wasp' lived tens of millions of years before figs
Thu, 05 Dec 2013 14:16:16 EST
A 115-million-year-old fossilized wasp from northeast Brazil presents a baffling puzzle to researchers. The wasp's ovipositor, the organ through which it lays its eggs, looks a lot like those of present-day wasps that lay their eggs in figs. The problem, researchers say, is that figs arose about 65 million years after this wasp was alive.
An ecosystem-based approach to protect the deep sea from mining
Thu, 05 Dec 2013 10:23:23 EST
A new paper describes the expert-driven systematic conservation planning process applied to inform science-based recommendations to the International Seabed Authority for a system of deep-sea marine protected areas to safeguard biodiversity and ecosystem function in an abyssal Pacific region targeted for nodule mining (e.g. the Clarion–Clipperton fracture zone, CCZ).
Environment drives genetics in 'Evolution Canyon': Discovery sheds light on climate change
Thu, 12 Dec 2013 09:49:49 EST
Researchers studying life from a unique natural environment in Israel discover heat stress seems to influence a species' genetic makeup, a finding that may influence understanding of climate change.
Reef fish find it's too hot to swim
Wed, 27 Nov 2013 11:06:06 EST
A team of researchers has shown that ocean warming may reduce the swimming ability of many fish species, and have major impacts on their ability to grow and reproduce.
Antarctic fjords are climate-sensitive hotspots of diversity in a rapidly warming region
Tue, 03 Dec 2013 19:11:11 EST
In the first significant study of seafloor communities in the glacier-dominated fjords along the west Antarctic Peninsula, scientists expected to find an impoverished seafloor highly disturbed by glacial sedimentation, similar to what has been documented in well-studied Arctic regions. Instead, they found high levels of diversity and abundance in megafauna. The difference can be explained by the fact that the subpolar Antarctic is in an earlier stage of climate warming than the Arctic.
Safety in numbers? Not so for corals
Fri, 15 Nov 2013 14:14:14 EST
Traditionally, it was assumed that corals do not face a risk of extinction unless they become very rare or have a very restricted range. A team of scientists has revealed that global changes in climate and ocean chemistry affect corals whether scare or abundant, and often it is the dominant, abundant corals with wide distributions that are affected the most.
Evolution, Civil War history entwine in plant fossil with a tragic past
Mon, 02 Dec 2013 11:21:21 EST
A fossil leaf collected on a Virginia canal bank is one of North America's oldest flowering plants, a 120-million-year-old species new to science. The find raises questions about whether pollen evolved along with flowering plants or came later. It also unearths a forgotten Civil War episode reminiscent of "Twelve Years a Slave": Union troops forced a group of freedmen to dig the canal that exposed the fossil.
Bonobo: 'Forgotten' ape threatened by human activity and forest loss
Tue, 26 Nov 2013 12:36:36 EST
The most detailed range-wide assessment of the bonobo (formerly known as the pygmy chimpanzee) ever conducted has revealed that this poorly known and endangered great ape is quickly losing space in a world with growing human populations. The loss of usable habitat is attributed to both forest fragmentation and poaching, according to a new study.
Mutations in mantled howler provoked by disturbances in habitat
Thu, 28 Nov 2013 10:38:38 EST
The disturbances of the habitat could be affecting the populations of the mantled howler, or golden-mantled howling monkey, (Alouatta palliate Mexicana) who in an extreme case could be developing mutations that make them less resistant to diseases and climate events.
Amber provides new insights into the evolution of Earth's atmosphere: Low oxygen levels for dinosaurs
Mon, 18 Nov 2013 08:10:10 EST
Scientists have reconstructed the composition of the Earth's atmosphere of the last 220 million years by analyzing modern and fossil plant resins. The results suggest that atmospheric oxygen was considerably lower in the Earth's geological past than previously assumed. This new study questions some of the current theories about the evolution of climate and life, including the causes for the gigantism of dinosaurs.
Microplastic transfers chemicals, impacting health: Plastic ingestion delivers pollutants and additives into animal tissue
Mon, 02 Dec 2013 14:27:27 EST
With global production of plastic exceeding 280 metric tons every year, a fair amount of it makes its way to the natural environment. However, until now researchers haven't known whether ingested plastic transfers chemical additives or pollutants to wildlife. A new study shows toxic concentrations of pollutants and additives enter the tissue of animals that have eaten microplastic.
Peaceful bumblebee becomes invasive
Mon, 09 Dec 2013 10:52:52 EST
European bumblebees were introduced into Chile as pollinators. However, these socially living insects have since spread across the southern part of South America -- very much to the detriment of native species.
Smaller islands host shorter food chains
Fri, 22 Nov 2013 08:45:45 EST
That smaller islands will typically sustain fewer species than large ones is a widespread pattern in nature. Now a team of researchers shows that smaller area will mean not only fewer species, but also shorter food chains. This implies that plant and animal communities on small islands may work differently from those on large ones.
Invasive sparrows immune cells sharpen as they spread
Wed, 20 Nov 2013 11:19:19 EST
Researchers find the immune systems of house sparrows at the edge of the species' range in Kenya were more attuned to finding dangerous parasites than birds from older sites in the same country. These differences may help keep invading birds from becoming sick in new areas where pathogens are more likely novel.
Catastrophic collapse of Sahara Desert's wildlife
Tue, 03 Dec 2013 12:45:45 EST
A new study warns that the world’s largest tropical desert, the Sahara, has suffered a catastrophic collapse of its wildlife populations.
Barcodes for trees: Researchers identify genetic fingerprints of endangered conifers
Thu, 28 Nov 2013 10:39:39 EST
In the tropics and subtropics, many evergreen conifers are endangered. Biologists have collected the world’s largest Podocarpaceae collection. They sequenced characteristic parts of the DNA of these conifers in order to generate a “DNA barcode” for each species. With the help of this genetic fingerprint, unknown individuals can be assigned to the respective Podocarpaceae species, which are often very similar in appearance.
Geologic processes deep inside Earth: New light on genetic makeup of Earth's deep microbial life and geochemistry of lavas
Mon, 09 Dec 2013 10:49:49 EST
Scientists are shedding light on the genetic makeup of Earth’s deep microbial life and the geochemistry of the lavas that form the Earth’s crust.
Special wildlife scheme beats organic at boosting birds
Fri, 06 Dec 2013 10:15:15 EST
Threatened farmland birds are likely to survive the winter better on conventional farms with specially designed wildlife habitats than on organic farms without. The 'Conservation Grade' approach, which aims to grow crops efficiently while requiring farmers to establish and manage specific habitats for wildlife, produced higher survival rates than the organic sites.
Tracking marine food sources
Tue, 03 Dec 2013 09:14:14 EST
Scientists have developed a method to determine where animals obtain essential amino acids. They discovered that all life forms leave traces or ‘fingerprints’ in amino acids during biosynthesis. With these fingerprints, which are based on naturally occurring isotope variations, it is possible for the first time to distinguish between algal, bacterial, fungal and plant origins of amino acids through tissue samples. This discovery makes it possible to find out what animals have been feeding on without observing them directly or examining their stomach content.
Cryptic new species of wild cat identified in Brazil
Wed, 27 Nov 2013 12:24:24 EST
Biologists have identified a cryptic new species of wild cat living in Brazil. The discovery is a reminder of just how little scientists still know about the natural world, even when it comes to such charismatic creatures. The findings also have important conservation implications for the cats, the researchers say.
Turning problems into solutions: Land management as a key to countering butterfly declines
Mon, 18 Nov 2013 11:19:19 EST
Currently, butterfly populations in many countries decline at alarming rates. Changes in farming practises and land use can therefore have far-reaching consequences for the success and persistence of the butterfly fauna. A new study focuses on systematic surveys of butterfly population trends and extinction rates in southern Swedish agricultural landscapes to review effects of land management on butterfly diversity using historical and current surveys from the last 100 years.
More logging, deforestation may better serve climate in some areas
Thu, 05 Dec 2013 14:16:16 EST
Replacing forests with snow-covered meadows may provide greater climatic and economic benefits than if trees are left standing in some regions, according to a study that for the first time puts a dollar value on snow's ability to reflect the sun's energy.
Pine plantations provide optimum conditions for natural forests to develop underneath them
Wed, 11 Dec 2013 13:24:24 EST
If there is any native forest in the vicinity, tree, fern and herbaceous species typical of these forests penetrate under the pine plantations without any need for action. That way it is possible, to a certain extent, for native forests to be restored, thanks to the process known as ecological succession.
Recreating the history of life through the genome
Tue, 19 Nov 2013 10:10:10 EST
One of the most important processes in the life of cells is genome replication. In most organisms genome replication follows a set plan, in which certain regions of the genome replicate before others; alterations in the late replication phases had previously been related to cancer and aging. Now, scientists have, for the first time related this process to evolution of life.
Home teams hold the advantage
Mon, 09 Dec 2013 15:23:23 EST
The home team holds the advantage over visitors – at least in the plant world. However, a mere handful of genetic adaptations could even the playing field. Researchers and their collaborators found that plant adaptation to different environments involves tradeoffs in performance.
Impacts of plant invasions become less robust over time: Invasive plants are more likely to be replaced by other 'invasives'
Wed, 20 Nov 2013 14:37:37 EST
Among the most impressive ecological findings of the past 25 years is the ability of invasive plants to radically change ecosystem function. Yet few if any studies have examined whether ecosystem impacts of invasions persist over time, and what that means for plant communities and ecosystem restoration.
Researchers revise Darwin's thinking on invasive species
Mon, 02 Dec 2013 16:21:21 EST
Rebutting Charles Darwin, researchers say the relatedness of native and introduced species is not as important as the details of how they go about doing their business. The model they've developed in analyzing Darwin's "naturalization conundrum" could lead to a new way of gauging the potential of invasive species, a major ecological and economic concern as plants and animals have spread into new habitats around the planet.
Study of rodent family tree puts brakes on commonly held understanding of evolution
Thu, 12 Dec 2013 11:30:30 EST
Rodents can tell us a lot about the way species evolve after they move into new areas, according to a new and exceptionally broad study.