Ecology & Zoology

Shrubs are more widespread than trees in nature and on Earth. A new study explains their global success. It turns out that the multiple stems of shrubs are of key importance. This feature contributes to both better growth and better survival than in trees of similar size, according to the research team behind the study.

Shrubs with flowers and berries are popular in parks and gardens, and in nature they are far more widespread than trees: shrubs grow on at least 40 per cent of the world’s land surface while for trees the figure is only 28 per cent. Still, relatively few efforts have been made to fully understand them.

A study by animal welfare specialists has provided new evidence that using electronic containment systems to restrict where pet cats venture does not result in long-term wellbeing problems.

The use of hand-held shock collars on dogs has previously led to concerns over the welfare of animals trained using so-called 'e-collars'. However, other forms of electronic training devices for pets have received relatively little attention from researchers. These include invisible or virtual fences which deliver a static electric pulse to deter animals from crossing a boundary, such as a garden perimeter.

Are bees in peril or not? It's difficult to know, because the moment science declares one thing not an issue (example: neonicotinoid targeted pesticides), environmental groups move the goalposts and declare something else is the problem. When honey bees were shown to be unaffected, groups proposed that wild bees were the big concern, and if amateur record-keeping and a Bayesian estimate agrees, they declare the science settled. If a world-class entomologist does a good, controlled study of bees, it is ignored.

In history, 941 A.D. was unspectacular. Small local politics happened, a temple was built, Kievian Rus and the Byzantine Empire had another outbreak of hostilities - but in modern times, it has an interesting distinction. It was the year Europe's oldest living inhabitant was born.

Health researchers predict that the transmission of dengue could actually decrease in a warmer climate, countering previous apocalyptic cocktail projections which included that the lethal virus would spread more easily.

Hundreds of millions of people are already infected with dengue each year, with some children dying in severe cases, so increasing a significant global health problem is an alarming concern. The model instead finds that a warmer climate would mean the ecologically useless mosquitoes that carry Dengue (and also Zika) would die off in the drier sections of the wet tropics of northeast Australia.

A lot of environmental fundraising and lobbying has involved bees. There was talk of a neonicotinoid pesticide-induced die-off, until it was determined that pesticides weren't the problem, varroa mites, and the fad of amateur beekeepers who didn't know what they were doing were the big problems. Traffic accidents killed more bees than chemicals. 

When that failed, activists turned to claims about wild bees. This would seem to have easier success, since wild bees can't really be tabulated. There are over 25,000 species of wild bees worldwide, and only a few have hives to count.

The days of pork may be coming to a close. The International Agency for Research on Cancer recently declared bacon as carcinogenic as plutonium, and now a group of animal activists say pigs are more like people than we know.
Beetles and some other male insects can possess a penis several times longer than their entire body length.

So how do they have sex with it? A recent study has found that male beetles keep their penis tip soft for faster sex, when they 'shoot' their hyper-elongated penises into the female beetle's duct. 
For decades we have been told that salmon is good for us, for everything from heart health to brain function. And we should eat more of it.

But if more people actually listened to those dietary recommendations, they would run squarely up against environmental activists and the media outlets (i.e. Mother Jones) and anti-science Deniers for Hire (i.e. SourceWatch) they fund. 

Whole Foods shoppers and other anti-science groups may not like it, but scientists have taken the first step of an ongoing-process designed to bring a valuable heirloom wheat back from the brink of extinction.