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Drought Research. Read where droughts are predicted, and what can be done about them.
Last updated on  October 20th, 2017
New NASA study improves search for habitable worlds: Click here
New NASA research is helping to refine our understanding of candidate planets beyond our solar system that might support life.
Climate shifts shorten marine food chain off California: Click here
Environmental disturbances such as El Niño shake up the marine food web off Southern California, new research shows, countering conventional thinking that the hierarchy of who-eats-who in the ocean remains largely constant over time.
Field trips of the future?: Click here
A biologist examines the benefits and drawbacks of virtual and augmented reality in teaching environmental science.
New tyrannosaur fossil is most complete found in Southwestern US: Click here
A fossilized skeleton of a tyrannosaur discovered in Utah's Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument was airlifted by helicopter Oct 15, and delivered to the Natural History Museum of Utah where it will be uncovered, prepared, and studied. The fossil is approximately 76 million years old and is likely an individual of the species Teratophoneus curriei.
Studying insect behavior? Make yourself an ethoscope!: Click here
Fruit flies have surprising similarities to humans. The mysteries of a broad range of human conditions can be studied in detail in these organisms, however this often requires the use of expensive custom equipment. team of scientists now present the ethoscope -- a cheap, easy-to-use and self-made customizable piece of equipment of their invention that can be used to study flies' behavior.
Flu simulations suggest pandemics more likely in spring, early summer: Click here
New statistical simulations suggest that Northern Hemisphere flu pandemics are most likely to emerge in late spring or early summer at the tail end of the normal flu season, according to a new study.
Ancient DNA offers new view on saber-toothed cats' past: Click here
Researchers who've analyzed the complete mitochondrial genomes from ancient samples representing two species of saber-toothed cats have a new take on the animals' history over the last 50,000 years. The data suggest that the saber-toothed cats shared a common ancestor with all living cat-like species about 20 million years ago. The two saber-toothed cat species under study diverged from each other about 18 million years ago.
Gut bacteria from wild mice boost health in lab mice: Click here
Laboratory mice that are given the gut bacteria of wild mice can survive a deadly flu virus infection and fight colorectal cancer dramatically better than laboratory mice with their own gut bacteria, researchers report.
Evolution in your back garden: Great tits may be adapting their beaks to birdfeeders: Click here
A British enthusiasm for feeding birds may have caused UK great tits to have evolved longer beaks than their European counterparts, according to new research. The findings identify for the first time the genetic differences between UK and Dutch great tits which researchers were then able to link to longer beaks in UK birds.
H7N9 influenza is both lethal and transmissible in animal model for flu: Click here
In 2013, an influenza virus began circulating among poultry in China. It caused several waves of human infection and as of late July 2017, nearly 1,600 people had tested positive for avian H7N9. Nearly 40 percent of those infected had died. In 2017, a medical researcher received a sample of H7N9 virus isolated from a patient in China who had died of the flu. He and his research team subsequently began work to characterize and understand it.
Water striders illustrate evolutionary processes: Click here
How do new species arise and diversify in nature? Natural selection offers an explanation, but the genetic and environmental conditions behind this mechanism are still poorly understood. Researchers have just figured out how water striders (family Veliidae) of the genus Rhagovelia developed fan-like structures at the tips of their legs. These structures allow them to move upstream against the current, a feat beyond the abilities of other water striders that don't have fans.
Gut bacterium indirectly causes symptoms by altering fruit fly microbiome: Click here
CagA, a protein produced by the bacterium Helicobacter pylori, can alter the population of microbes living in the fruit fly gut, leading to disease symptoms, according to new research.
A mosquito's secret weapon: a light touch and strong wings: Click here
How do mosquitoes land and take off without our noticing? Using high-speed video cameras, researchers have found part of the answer: mosquitoes' long legs allow them to slowly and gently push off, but their wings provide the majority of the lift, even when fully laden with a blood meal. For comparison, mosquitoes push off with forces much less than those of an escaping fruit fly.
Maintaining fish biomass the key to conserving reef fish biodiversity: Click here
A new study has found that conserving fish diversity in Madagascar's coral reef systems may depend on maintaining fish biomass above critical levels.
Declining baby songbirds need forests to survive drought: Click here
A new study aimed to identify characteristics that promote healthy wood thrush populations on US Department of Defense land.
Researchers watch in real time as fat-encased drug nanoparticles invade skin cells: Click here
A new study describes the use of cutting-edge microscopy technology to visualize how liposomes escape from blood vessels into surrounding cells in a living mouse, offering clues that may help researchers design better drug delivery systems.
Scientists pinpoint jealousy in the monogamous mind: Click here
Scientists find that in male titi monkeys, jealousy is associated with heightened activity in the cingulate cortex, an area of the brain associated with social pain in humans, and the lateral septum, associated with pair bond formation in primates. A better understanding of jealousy may provide important clues on how to approach health and welfare problems such as addiction and domestic violence, as well as autism.
Dogs are more expressive when someone is looking: Click here
Dogs produce more facial expressions when humans are looking at them, according to new research.
Superbug's artillery revealed: nanomachine secretes toxins: Click here
Researchers have created the first high-resolution structure depicting a crucial part of the 'superbug' Pseudomonas aeruginosa, classified by the WHO as having the highest level threat to human health. The image identifies the 'nanomachine' used by the highly virulent bacteria to secrete toxins, pointing the way for drug design targeting this.
Living mulch builds profits, soil: Click here
Living mulch functions like mulch on any farm or garden except -- it's alive. No, it's not out of the latest horror movie; living mulch is a system farmers can use to benefit both profits and the soil. While the system has been around for a while, scientists are making it more efficient and sustainable.
More than 75 percent decrease in total flying insect biomass over 27 years across Germany: Click here
The total flying insect biomass decreased by more than 75 percent over 27 years in protected areas in Germany, according to a new study.
Salmon sex linked to geological change: Click here
It turns out that sex can move mountains. Researchers have found that the mating habits of salmon can alter the profile of stream beds, affecting the evolution of an entire watershed. The study is one of the first to quantitatively show that salmon can influence the shape of the land.
Surprise new butterflyfish from the Philippine 'twilight zone': Click here
A new species of striped Philippine butterflyfish -- the charismatic Roa rumsfeldi -- made a fantastic, 7,000-mile journey before surprising scientists with its unknown status. Live specimens collected from a depth of 360 feet escaped special notice until a single black fin spine tipped off aquarium biologists back in San Francisco.
Obesity: Engineered proteins lower body weight in mice, rats and primates: Click here
Researchers have created engineered proteins that lowered body weight, bloodstream insulin, and cholesterol levels in obese mice, rats, and primates.
Duplications of noncoding DNA may have affected evolution of human-specific traits: Click here
Duplications of large segments of noncoding DNA in the human genome may have contributed to the emergence of differences between humans and nonhuman primates, according to new results. Identifying these duplications, which include regulatory sequences, and their effect on traits and behavior may help scientists explain genetic contributions to human disease.
Understanding the coevolving web of life as a network: Click here
Coevolution, which occurs when species interact and adapt to each other, is often studied in the context of pair-wise interactions between mutually beneficial symbiotic partners. But many species have mutualistic interactions with multiple partners, leading to complex networks of interacting species.
Nature or nurture? Innate social behaviors in the mouse brain: Click here
The brain circuitry that controls innate, or instinctive, behaviors such as mating and fighting was thought to be genetically hardwired. Not so, neuroscientists now say.
Petals produce a 'blue halo' that helps bees find flowers: Click here
Latest research has found that several common flower species have nanoscale ridges on the surface of their petals that meddle with light when viewed from certain angles.
Illinois sportfish recovery a result of 1972 Clean Water Act, scientists report: Click here
Populations of largemouth bass, bluegill, catfish and other sportfish are at the highest levels recorded in more than a century in the Illinois River, according to a new report. Their dramatic recovery, from populations close to zero near Chicago throughout much of the 20th century, began just after implementation of the Clean Water Act, the researchers say.
DNA tests on albatross excrement reveal secret diet of top predator: Click here
A study that used DNA tests to analyse the scats of one of the world's most numerous albatrosses has revealed surprising results about the top predator's diet. DNA analysis of 1460 scats from breeding sites around the Southern Ocean has shown that the diet of black-browed albatrosses contains a much higher proportion of jellyfish than previously thought.
Competing forces: How molecules maintain their structure: Click here
A double helix twisted around itself: this is the distinctive structure of DNA, which is made up of large molecules. Using synthetically produced molecules, chemists and physicists have investigated the forces which are at work inside the molecule to give it its three-dimensional structure.
Hardy corals make their moves to build new reefs from scratch: Click here
Resilient species of coral can move to inhospitable areas and lay the foundations for new reefs, a study shows.
Death by a thousand cuts? Not for small populations: Click here
New research provides a look at how certain species survive by evolving a greater ability to weed out harmful mutations -- a new concept called 'drift robustness'.
Stiff fibers spun from slime: Click here
Nanoparticles from the secretion of velvet worms form recyclable polymer fibers.
Turning brain cells into skin cells: Click here
A new study reveals that it is possible to repurpose the function of different mature cells across the body and harvest new tissue and organs from these cells.
Ancient preen oil: Researchers discover 48-million-year-old lipids in a fossil bird: Click here
As a rule, soft parts do not withstand the ravages of time; hence, the majority of vertebrate fossils consist only of bones. Under these circumstances, a new discovery from the UNESCO World Heritage Site “Messel Pit” near Darmstadt in Germany comes as an even bigger surprise: a 48-million-year old skin gland from a bird, containing lipids of the same age. The oldest lipids ever recorded in a fossil vertebrate were used by the bird to preen its plumage.
Gene therapy can cure lameness in horses, research finds: Click here
Injecting DNA into injured horse tendons and ligaments can cure lameness, new research has found.
Space greens beat the blues: Click here
Where people will go in the cosmos, plants will go, say researchers. Plants may also play a key role in maintaining the psychological well-being of space crews. The next frontier of space plant experimentation is to examine the psychological impact of plant life on astronauts.
Yeast spotlights genetic variation's link to drug resistance: Click here
Researchers have shown that genetic diversity plays a key role in enabling drug resistance to evolve. Scientists show that high genetic diversity can prime new mutations that cause drug resistance. The study has implications for our understanding of the evolution of resistance to antimicrobial and anticancer drugs.
How many golden eagles are there?: Click here
For conservation to be effective, wildlife managers need to know how many individuals of a species are out there. When species are spread out over large areas and occur at low densities, this can be tricky. However, a new study applies an old technique called 'mark-recapture' in a novel way to count golden eagles, eliminating the need to actually capture and mark eagles with math that allows scientists to turn individual observations into population estimates.
New Amazon threat? Deforestation from mining: Click here
Sprawling mining operations in Brazil have caused roughly 10 percent of all Amazon rainforest deforestation between 2005 and 2015 -- much higher than previous estimates -- says the first comprehensive study of mining deforestation in the iconic tropical rainforest. Surprisingly, the majority of mining deforestation (a full 90%) occurred outside the mining leases granted by Brazil's government, the new study finds.
Healthy coral populations produce a surprising number of offspring: Click here
Healthy coral populations can produce up to 200 times more juvenile corals than degraded coral populations nearby, according to a new study.
'Wasabi receptor' for pain discovered in flatworms: Click here
A research team has discovered how scalding heat and tissue injury activate an ancient 'pain' receptor in simple animals. The findings, from a study of flatworms, could lead to new strategies for analgesic drug design for the treatment of humans. That planarian flatworms use the same molecular receptor as flies, mice and humans to detect potentially damaging or noxious stimuli from the environment shows a remarkable level of evolutionary conservation, the researchers say.
Chocolate production linked to increased deforestation in poor nations: Click here
Newly published research focuses on the link between cocoa exports and deforestation in developing nations.
Amazonian hunters deplete wildlife but don't empty forests: Click here
Conservationists can be 'cautiously optimistic' about the prospect of sustainable subsistence hunting by Amazonian communities, according to new research. The research team spent over a year working with 60 Amazonian communities and hiked for miles through trackless forests to deploy nearly 400 motion-activated camera traps -- in a bid to understand which species are depleted by hunting and where.
Assessment shows metagenomics software has much room for improvement: Click here
A recent critical assessment of software tools represents a key step toward taming the 'Wild West' nature of the burgeoning field of metagenomics.
Tropical beetles face extinction threat: Click here
Climate change is putting many tropical high altitude beetles at risk of extinction, warn an international team of scientists.
Single cell level sorting technology uses sound waves: Click here
Researchers have developed a highly accurate single cell sorting technology using focused sound waves. This new technology enables rapid and accurate isolation of single cells from complex biological samples, which will facilitate the broad application of single cell analysis toward precision medicine.
Scientists create most powerful micro-scale bio-solar cell yet: Click here
Researchers have created a micro-scale biological solar cell that generates a higher power density for longer than any existing cell of its kind.
Domestication has not made dogs cooperate more with each other compared to wolves: Click here
Following domestication, dogs should be more tolerant and cooperative with conspecifics and humans compared to wolves. But looking at both in more naturalistic living conditions, however, speaks for more cooperative behavior of wolves. Researchers now show that the wild ancestors are excelling their domesticated relatives in teamwork. In an experimental approach dogs but not wolves failed to cooperatively pull the two ends of a rope to obtain a piece of food.
Looking for microbe 'fingerprints' on simulated Martian rocks: Click here
Scientists are searching for unique bio-signatures left on synthetic extraterrestrial minerals by microbial activity. A new paper describes investigations into these signatures at a miniaturized 'Mars farm' where researchers can observe interactions between the archaeon Metallosphaera sedula and Mars-like rocks. These microbes are capable of oxidizing and integrating metals into their metabolism.
Electroplating: The birth of a single nucleus caught in camera: Click here
Electroplating, or electrodeposition, is one of the most important processes in chemistry, in which a metal cation in solution can be reduced to its elemental form by applying an electrical potential to an electrode.
Need for speed makes genome editing efficient, if not better: Click here
Researchers have developed a computational model to quantify the mechanism by which CRISPR-Cas9 proteins find their genome-editing targets.
'Hiding in plain sight:' Discovery raises questions over scale of overlooked biodiversity: Click here
Scientists have used cutting edge DNA technology to demonstrate that one of Europe's top freshwater predators is actually two species rather than one.
Keratin, proteins from 54-million-year-old sea turtle show survival trait evolution: Click here
Researchers have retrieved original pigment, beta-keratin and muscle proteins from a 54-million-year-old sea turtle hatchling. The work adds to the growing body of evidence supporting persistence of original molecules over millions of years and also provides direct evidence that a pigment-based survival trait common to modern sea turtles evolved at least 54 million years ago.
Pair of discoveries illuminate new paths to flu and anthrax treatments: Click here
Two recent studies have set the research groundwork for new avenues to treat influenza and anthrax poisoning. The studies used a series of experiments to identify key pathways and mechanisms previously unknown or overlooked in the body's defenses, and possible treatments already developed.
Germ-free hatching eggs: An alternative to formaldehyde application: Click here
Hatching eggs in large-scale hatcheries are currently treated with formaldehyde to eliminate germs. Researchers have now developed a natural alternative.
Oysters offer hot spot for reducing nutrient pollution: Click here
Marine scientists have quantified potentially denitrifying bacteria in the oyster gut and shell, with important implications for efforts to reduce nutrient levels in coastal waters through oyster restoration.
Invasive ladybird species threatens other ladybirds in England: Click here
The harlequin ladybird was widely introduced across continental Europe to limit the population of pest insects.
Clues to the Innate Drug Resistance of a Cocoa-Fermenting Pathogen: Click here
At first glance, the yeast Candida krusei seems as innocuous as microbes come: it’s used for fermenting cocoa beans and gives chocolate its pleasant aroma. But it’s increasingly being found as a pathogen in immunocompromised patients — and C. krusei infections aren’t always easy to cure.
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