A team of Genographic researchers and their collaborators have published the most extensive survey to date of African mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA). Over 600 complete mtDNA genomes from indigenous populations across the continent were analyzed by the scientists, led by Doron Behar, Genographic Associate Researcher, based at Rambam Medical Center, Haifa, and Saharon Rosset of IBM T.J. Watson Research Center, NY and Tel Aviv University. Analyses of the extensive data presented in this study provide surprising insights into the early demographic history of human populations before they moved out of Africa, illustrating that these early human populations were small and isolated from each other for many tens of thousands of years.
Dutch ecologist Roxina Soler and her colleagues have discovered that subterranean and aboveground herbivorous insects can communicate with each other by using plants as telephones. Subterranean insects issue chemical warning signals via the leaves of the plant. This way, aboveground insects are alerted that the plant is already ‘occupied’.
The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) recently launched a four-year study to determine if climate change is affecting populations of a quintessential Arctic denizen: the rare musk ox. Along with collaborators from the National Park Service, U. S. Geological Survey, and Alaska Fish and Game, Wildlife Conservation Society researchers have already equipped six musk ox with GPS collars to better understand how climate change may affect these relics of the Pleistocene.
In the first experiment involving a natural environment, scientists at Brown University have shown that richer plant diversity significantly enhances an ecosystem’s productivity. The finding underscores the benefits of biodiversity, such as capturing carbon dioxide, a main contributor to global warming.
A team of researchers at New York Medical College has discovered why birds, unlike mammals, lack a tissue that is specialized to generate heat. A new paper contains the surprising implication that the same lack of heat-generating tissue may have contributed to the extinction of dinosaurs.
The technique lizards use to grab their grub influences how they move, according to researchers at Ohio University. A research team led by doctoral student Eric McElroy tracked 18 different species of lizards as they walked or ran in order to understand how their foraging styles impact their biomechanics.
The loss of sea ice due to climate change could spell disaster for polar bears and other Arctic marine mammals. Sea ice is the common habitat feature uniting these unique and diverse Arctic inhabitants. Sea ice serves as a platform for resting and reproduction, influences the distribution of food sources, and provides a refuge from predators. The loss of sea ice poses a particularly severe threat to Arctic species, such as the hooded seal, whose natural history is closely tied to, and depends on, sea ice.