Ecology & Zoology

Headshaking in horses, a neuropathic facial pain syndrome, often leaves affected horses impossible to ride and dangerous to handle, and can result in euthanasia.

It affects between 10,000 and 20,000 animals in the UK each year and there are no consistently safe and effective methods for it.  A new study has found a treatment called percutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (PENS) could reduce signs of the condition in horses. The same PENS therapy is used in people to manage neuropathic pain. There are clinical similarities between facial pain syndromes in people, most notably trigeminal neuralgia, and headshaking in horses. 

Up close and personal with the demon shrimp. Amaia Green Etxabe - University of Portsmouth

By Alex Ford,University of Portsmouth

Demon vs killer shrimp sounds like the latest CGI movie to come out of Hollywood. But in fact these are two particularly pernicious crustaceans that have been making their way westward across Europe from countries surrounding the Black Sea, eradicating native freshwater rivals en route.

Researchers have developed a detailed explanation of how white-nose syndrome is killing bats in parts of North America - the fungus Pseudogymnoascus destructans makes bats die by increasing the amount of energy they use during winter hibernation.

Researchers from the U.S. Geological Survey and the University of Wisconsin created a model for how the disease progresses from initial infection to death in bats during hibernation. Since bats must carefully ration their energy supply during this time to survive without eating until spring, they tested the energy depletion hypothesis by measuring the amounts of energy used by infected and healthy bats hibernating under similar conditions.

Bowhead whales can live to be over 200 years and show little evidence of the age-related disease that are apparent in humans in our senior years.

There may soon by answers why, thanks to a complete bowhead whale genome and identify key differences compared to other mammals. Alterations in bowhead genes related to cell division, DNA repair, cancer, and aging may have helped increase its longevity and cancer resistance. 

In 2006,  Dr. J. E. McPherson, professor emeritus at Southern Illinois University, was working with colleagues on a key to the nymphs of three midwestern species of assassin bug in the genus Sinea (i.e., S. complexa, S. diadema, and S. spinipes).

To test their key for accuracy, they asked several others to check it by comparing it with insects in their collections or laboratories.

All of them found the key to be satisfactory, except for one - Dr. Scott Bundy from New Mexico State University, who found discrepancies in specimens that had been collected in New Mexico and identified as S. complexa.

A new species of frog,
Limnonectes larvaepartus, from the island of Sulawesi in Indonesia, does what no other frog does: It gives birth to live tadpoles instead of laying eggs.

A member of the Asian group of fanged frogs, the new species was discovered a few decades ago by Indonesian researcher Djoko Iskandar and was thought to give direct birth to tadpoles, but the frog's mating and an actual birth had never been observed before. 

A pleasant or disgusting odor is not always just a preference, in some cases an organism's survival depends on it.

Odors can provide important information about food sources, oviposition sites or suitable mates and can also be signs of lethal hazards.  

There is a disease killing honeybee populations around the world but you won't be surprised to find that environmental groups never mention it.

It's called American foulbrood disease and it doesn't get much attention because groups can't use it in fundraising campaigns due to it being completely natural. Science is setting out to cure it just the same, and researchers have found a toxin released by the pathogen that causes American foulbrood disease -- Paenibacillus larvae (P. larvae) -- and developed a lead-based inhibitor against it.

10 percent of the world's ants are close relatives, belong to just one genus out of 323. That genus is  called Pheidole. Pheidole fill niches in ecosystems ranging from rainforests to deserts.  

Cockroaches are most often though of as infecting human homes but a new species and a new subspecies discovered in China prefer to live a hermit life, drilling logs far away from crowds and houses.