Robust Rice Varieties Cut Costs and Pollution Biology Environment Health 

Robust Rice Varieties Cut Costs and Pollution

By Neha Jain @lifesciexplore Climate change coupled with our growing population is putting tremendous pressure on world food production, especially in developing countries. We need crops that use resources more efficiently. Scientists from China and Canada have identified “superstar” rice varieties that can reduce pollution and also save money spent by farmers on nitrogen fertilizers. “Anything we can do to reduce demand for nitrogen, both environmentally and for farmers in the developing world struggling to pay for it, is a significant contribution,” says Herbert Kronzucker,  distinguished professor at the University…

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Pharmaceutical waste Environment 

Pharmaceutical Waste Damages Aquatic Ecosystems

By Shayna Keyles, @shaynakeyles In a society where nearly 70 percent take at least one prescription drug and the pharmaceutical and biochemical industries spend billions of dollars each year to create new products, it is no surprise that a large amount of pharmaceutical wastewater is produced each year. But what happens to this waste, and what impact does it have on our environment? In early 2014, researchers with the United States Geological Survey (USGS) surveyed 59 headstreams in the US Piedmont ecoregion to answer just those questions. These streams were…

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A stranded humpback whale carcass in Dutch Harbor, Alaska. Humpback whales were among the Alaska marine mammals that showed exposure to algal toxins, according to new research. Photo credit: Kathy Burek-Huntington, Alaska Veterinary and Pathology Services. Animals Biology Environment 

Algal Toxins Found in Alaskan Marine Mammals

By Neha Jain @lifesciexplore Harmful algal blooms produce toxins that can be deadly to marine mammals. In the US, such toxins—unheard of 20 years ago—have caused almost half of all unusual marine mammal deaths in the last two decades, particularly among California sea lions. Now, for the first time scientists have discovered algal toxins farther north in Alaskan marine mammals; the mammals’ health can be jeopardized by these toxins. “What really surprised us was finding these toxins so widespread in Alaska, far north of where they have been previously documented…

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Meltwater rivers gushing on top of the ice layers in Greenland Climate Change Environment 

Greenland Ice Sheets Losing Ability to Absorb Meltwater

By Neha Jain Greenland Ice Sheets Losing Ability to Absorb Meltwater Sea-rise levels caused by a warmer Earth may be higher than predicted, according to a new study. Meltwater from ice sheets at the poles is often blamed for rising sea levels. Now, scientists have discovered some more grim news: Ice sheets in Greenland are losing their ability to retain meltwater, resulting in faster runoff of meltwater into the ocean. Meltwater from ice sheets does not always run off into the ocean. During summer when melting occurs, some of the…

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Photo by Lisa Brown via Flickr Animals Environment 

Citizen Science Informs Bird Feeder Dilemma

By Jonathan Trinastic @jptrinastic If you enjoy turkey this Thanksgiving, take a moment to think not about the bird on your plate but rather the birds outside your home. With increasing urbanization taking away more natural habitat, local wildlife is having difficulty finding food. Bird feeders have become a popular way for homeowners to help local wildlife and contribute to conservation efforts. But are these feeders, borne of good intentions, actually helping or hurting wild birds? A recent study has enlisted the help of Canadian citizens to find out. Feeding the…

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Forests Alone Can’t Stop Climate Change Environment 

Forests Alone Can’t Stop Climate Change

By Nicholas L. Medina Nicholas is a graduate student of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, a member of the Ecological Society of America and the American Geophysical Union, alumnus of the STEM Posse program at Brandeis University, and winner of the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship. Contact: nmedina@umich.edu. The US is the second-largest emitter of greenhouse gases after China, and President Obama has called climate change a “national and global security threat.” Now, we urgently need to understand why our fossil fuel use…

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coral reef Environment 

Recipe for the Perfect Coral Reef

By Tom Evans — @AquaEvans The latest health check on the world’s coral reefs wasn’t all doom and gloom; it’s shown us we have a plan for preservation that works. To understand how humans and corals can co-exist in perfect harmony, an honest assessment of our current relationship had to be done. Dr. Aaron McNeil and his team at the Australian Institute of Marine Science, gauged the health of 832 reefs from all over the world using a measure of biomass per hectare. Biomass is the total mass of organisms…

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Arborsculpture: Nagold Cube (Copyright Ludwig.Schönle) Environment Science and Art 

Arborsculpture: Artful Science of Tree Shaping

By Ansel Oommen Our Earth is hungry for solutions. From climate change and deforestation to overpopulation and pollution, our lives are ever dependent on our delicate dealings with the environment. But amongst the grassroots we are seeing a resurgence of an ancient practice of combining art and science, humanity and nature, to deliver an innovative contemporary response: Arborsculpture. A Brief History of Tree Shaping Dating as far back as the sixteenth century, tree shaping has been hinted at in paintings and literature, but it was not until Axel Erlandson, the…

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Ladybird on lavender Animals Biology Environment 

Ladybirds and Other Natural Pesticides

By Steven Spence Sheep and Wolves in your Garden Sheep and wolves in your garden? It’s more likely than you may think. Aphids (leaf lice) are pests, which are tended by shepherd ants, and ladybirds are voracious wolves that will quickly thin the herds. Do Pests = Pesticide Use? Just because pests are on the loose in the garden, it doesn’t mean you need to resort to chemical warfare with commercial pesticides, the use of which should be avoided on any plants you might eat. We know that the use…

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Giant Squid (Photo ©AMNH/P.Rollins) Animals Biology Oceanography 

The Voyage of the Giant Squid

This episode of the Shelf Life video series focuses on a simple transportation problem– how to  transport the body of a rare giant squid. But long before they were a quandary for customs officials, these mysterious cephalopods fueled fear and folklore all over the world. While they may not breathe fire or devour large ships, the animals that inspired their mythological counterparts are no less fantastic. The Giant Squid and the Kraken Though giant squid won’t reach the size of the mythological gigantic kraken— often depicted demolishing boats with its…

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