Ecology & Zoology
Penguin guano in the Antarctic is adding to organic pollutant problems there, according to a report to be featured in a Royal Society of Chemistry publication.
Adrian Covaci at the University of Antwerp, Belgium, and colleagues found unexpectedly high levels of organic pollutants in the soil around a colony of non-migratory Adelie penguins in the Antarctic.
Concerns about organic pollutant levels in the Antarctic have led to intensive studies into how they reach this remote region, said Covaci. The pollutants originate from man-made sources such as organochlorine pesticides and brominated flame retardants, he explained. The routes through which they normally travel are air and ocean currents.
Even in the Animal Kingdom, there are some common sense rules. The more likely to get a big return, for example, the more work will be invested. That goes for male-female relationships as well.
A French team of behavioral ecologists demonstrated that in the Peafowl. They found that females with attractive mates invested more resources in their eggs than females paired with unattractive mates. They laid larger eggs and deposited more testosterone in egg yolk, potentially offering a better prospective to their offspring.
Adeline Loyau, Michel Saint Jalme, Robert Mauget, and Gabriele Sorci of the National Museum of Natural History and the Laboratory of Evolutive Parasitology, Paris, investigated maternal investment in the peafowl (Pavo cristatus).
Scientists have discovered two species of groundwater amphipods that are found solely in Iceland. These finding can only be explained by these animals surviving glaciations in some kind of refugium under the glaciers.
Many scientists believe that the ice ages exterminated all life on land and in freshwater in large parts of the Northern Hemisphere, especially on ocean islands such as Iceland. Scientists at Holar University College and the University of Iceland have challenged that belief, at least when looking at groundwater animals.
They have discovered two species of groundwater amphipods in Iceland that are the only animals species found solely in Iceland.
To many people, the scent of jasmine flowers suggests a romantic interlude in an exotic locale. But jasmonate, the main component of the lush scent, carries far different meanings for plants. It is a hormone they use to regulate reproductive development, immunity to pathogens, defense against insect herbivores and other critical aspects of their biology.
Despite jasmonate’s importance in plant development and function, the chemical steps that convert the hormonal signal into genetic and cellular action have remained elusive. Now researchers at Washington State University and Michigan State University have identified the family of proteins that allow a plant to perceive and respond to the hormone. They have also proposed a model for how the proteins, dubbed JAZ proteins, work.
A new study of bottomland hardwood forests in the southeastern United States suggests that the increased growth of vines may change the landscape of these forests.
Researchers charting the growth of vines in two forests in South Carolina found up to a 10-fold increase in the number of vines in just two decades. Vines commonly found in both forests include grapevines, trumpet vine, poison ivy and Virginia creeper.
Researchers at the University of Warwick are co-ordinating a global effort to sequence the genome of one of the World’s most important mushrooms - Agaricus bisporus. The secrets of its genetic make up could assist the creation of biofuels, support the effort to manage global carbon, and help remove heavy metals from contaminated soils.
The Agaricus mushroom family are highly efficient ‘secondary decomposers’ of plant material such as leaves and litter –breaking down the material that is too tough for other fungi and bacteria to handle. How exactly it does this, particularly how it degrades tough plant material known as lignin, is not fully understood.
By sequencing the full genome of the mushroom, researchers hope to uncover exactly which genes are key to this process.
You're thinking flying speed is just size and strength. Not so, say researchers from the University of Lund in Sweden. It's also a behavior issue and it's related to evolution.
Aerodynamic scaling rules that explain how flight varies according to weight and wing loading have been used to compare general speeds of a wide range of flyers, from the smallest insects to the largest aircraft but Thomas Alerstam, Mikael Rosen and colleagues analyzed the flight speeds of 138 bird species and overturn the general assumption that maximum flight speed of a species is solely determined by such rules.
Flight speed doesn’t just depend on mass and wing loading but also reflects the evolutionary lineage of the species in question.
Who knew the cute koala bears were so promiscuous?
Professor Peter Timms from QUT's Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation said chlamydia in koalas was a significant cause of infertility, urinary tract infections, and inflammation in the lining of the eye that often led to blindness.
"The numbers of koalas with chlamydia seems to be increasing," he said.
The first Australian trials of a vaccine developed by Queensland University of Technology that could save Australia's iconic koala from contracting chlamydia are planned to begin later this year.
"The trial is planned to begin before the end of the year and will test the vaccine's ability to induce a good immune response in the koala against chlamydia," he said.
Brightly colored birds are among the species most adversely affected by the high levels of radiation around the Chernobyl nuclear plant, ecologists have discovered. The findings help explain why some species are harder hit by ionising radiation than others.
Dr Anders Møller of the Université Pierre et Marie Curie and Professor Timothy Mousseau of the University of South Carolina examined 1,570 birds from 57 different species in the forests around Chernobyl at varying distances from the reactor. They found that populations of four groups of birds - those whose red, yellow and orange plumage is based on carotenoids, those that laid the biggest eggs, and those that migrated or dispersed the furthest - declined more than other species.
First the obesity problem in humans alarmed physicians and then veterinarians worried about fat cags ( and dogs) but now a team of researchers in the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine and Virginia Tech has determined that horses are also facing serious health risks because of obesity.
Fifty-one percent of the horses evaluated during the pioneering research were determined to be overweight or obese – and may be subject to serious health problems like laminitis and hyperinsulinemia. And just like people, it appears as though the culprits are over-eating and lack of exercise.