Ecology & Zoology

Illuminating fishing nets is a cost-effective means of dramatically reducing the number of sea turtles getting caught and dying unnecessarily, conservation biologists at the University of Exeter have found.

Dr Jeffrey Mangel, a Darwin Initiative research fellow based in Peru, and Professor Brendan Godley, from the Centre for Ecology and Conservation at the University's Penryn Campus, were part of a team of researchers who found that attaching green battery powered light-emitting diodes (LED) to gillnets used by a small-scale fishery reduced the number of green turtle deaths by 64 per cent, without reducing the intended catch of fish.


Thanks to government mandates and ongoing subsidies, wind energy has become more popular, and one impact of large-scale wind energy development has been widespread mortality of bats. A new study tracks down the origin of bats killed by wind turbines in the Appalachian region in hopes of better understanding the risks to affected populations.


As the deadly bat disease called white-nose syndrome continues to spread across North America, scientists are studying bats in China to understand how they are able to survive infections with the same fungus that has wiped out millions of North American bats.


Cat owners tare familiar with their pets’ individual personalities, habits and preferences, and they can tell when the behavior is different than normal, but understanding what these changes mean can be much more difficult.

Horses have been shown to be able to distinguish between angry and happy human facial expressions, according to psychologists who studied how 28 horses reacted to seeing photographs of positive versus negative human facial expressions.


The belief by Western elites that ancient people lived in some sort of harmony with the land, a belief popular for the last century, has been punctured again.


DNA profiling reveals grey squirrels are not as good invaders as we think, and that humans played a much larger role in spreading them through the UK.

Grey squirrels were imported to the UK from the 1890s onwards, and the traditional view is that they spread rapidly across the UK due to their ability cope with new landscapes. Different populations of grey squirrels were thought to have interbred into a 'supersquirrel' that was better able to adapt and spread.


The magnetic compass that birds use for orientation is affected by polarized light. This previously unknown phenomenon was discovered by researchers at Lund University in Sweden.

The discovery that the magnetic compass is affected by the polarization direction of light was made when trained zebra finches were trying to find food inside a maze. The birds were only able to use their magnetic compass when the direction of the polarized light was parallel to the magnetic field, not when perpendicular to the magnetic field.


One of the most triumphant moments in the book and recent movie "The Martian" comes when lead character Mark Watney successfully grows a potato crop on Mars.

It's more than food for survival, it's a mental and engineering breakthrough. In space, there is no scent of baking bread, no wind on your face, no sound of raindrops hitting the roof, no favorite kitten to curl up in your lap. Over time, being deprived of these common earthbound sense stimulations may take a toll, according to NASA's Behavioral Health and Performance team. They say gardening provides recreation and relaxation and can provide a welcome break.


Latest research reveals why geckos are the largest animals able to scale smooth vertical walls - even larger climbers would require unmanageably large sticky footpads. Scientists estimate that a human would need adhesive pads covering 40% of their body surface in order to walk up a wall like Spider-man, and believe their insights have implications for the feasibility of large-scale, gecko-like adhesives.

A new study in PNAS shows that in climbing animals from mites and spiders up to tree frogs and geckos, the percentage of body surface covered by adhesive footpads increases as body size increases, setting a limit to the size of animal that can use this strategy because larger animals would require impossibly big feet.