My picks from ScienceDaily


Voracious Sponges In Underwater Caves Save Reefs:

Tropical oceans are known as the deserts of the sea. And yet this unlikely environment is the very place where the rich and fertile coral reef grows. Dutch researcher Jasper de Goeij investigated how caves in the coral reef ensure the reef’s continued existence. Although sponges in these coral caves take up a lot of dissolved organic material, they scarcely grow. However, they do discard a lot of cells that in turn provide food for the organisms on the reef.

Tiny Insect Develops Long-term Memory:

If a specific butterfly anti-sex scent is coupled with a pleasant experience, then parasitic wasps are able to develop long-term memory and respond to this scent that they do not instinctively recognize. After successfully ‘hitch-hiking’ with a mated female cabbage white butterfly and parasitizing her eggs, the parasitic wasps are able to remember the route and navigate it again. Researchers from Wageningen University, Netherlands, reported this finding in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Giant Bird Feces Record Pre-human New Zealand:

A treasure trove of information about pre-human New Zealand has been found in feces from giant extinct birds, buried beneath the floor of caves and rock shelters for thousands of years.

Hair Of Tasmanian Tiger Yields Genes Of Extinct Species:

All the genes that the exotic Tasmanian Tiger inherited only from its mother will be revealed by an international team of scientists in a research paper to be published on 13 January 2009 in the online edition of Genome Research. The research marks the first successful sequencing of genes from this carnivorous marsupial, which looked like a large tiger-striped dog and became extinct in 1936.

As Super-predators, Humans Reshape Their Prey At Super-natural Speeds:

Fishing and hunting are having broad, swift impacts on the body size and reproductive abilities of fish and other commercially harvested species, potentially jeopardizing the ability of entire populations to recover, according to the results of a new study that will appear in the January 12, 2009, online issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

Microscopic Morphology Adds To Scorpion Family Tree:

Modern microscopy technology has allowed two scorpion biologists, Carsten Kamenz of the Humboldt University in Berlin and Lorenzo Prendini of the American Museum of Natural History, to study and document what is nearly invisible. Looking at tiny morphological features like the sculpting of the hair-like outgrowths on lamellae–structures that fold like the leaves of a book and give the scorpion respiratory system its name, the book lung–Kamenz and Prendini found a wealth of new variation that gives insight into the evolutionary relationships among scorpions.

Study Of Disease Risk Suggests Ways To Avoid Slaughter Of Yellowstone Bison:

Last winter, government agencies killed one third of Yellowstone National Park’s bison herd due to concerns about the possible spread of a livestock disease to cattle that graze in areas around the park. Such drastic measures may be unnecessary, however, according to researchers who have assessed the risk of disease transmission from Yellowstone bison to cattle.

Race And Gender Determine How Politicians Speak:

New study looks at speech patterns of Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and others. Race and gender influence the way politicians speak, which is not always to their advantage. Camelia Suleiman from Florida International University and Daniel O’Connell from Georgetown University in the US have come to this conclusion as a result of their findings, published online in Psycholinguistic Research.

Rats Say: Manhattan Rules!:

If you leave it up to the rats, New York City beats New Orleans any day. By building mini-models of city layouts at the Tel Aviv University Research Zoo, Prof. Eilam and his colleagues found that grid-like city layouts ― like that of Manhattan ― are much more rat- and people-friendly than cities with unstructured and winding streets, like those in New Orleans.

While The Cat’s Away: How Removing An Invasive Species Devastated A World Heritage Island:

Removing an invasive species from sub-Antarctic Macquarie Island, a World Heritage Site, has caused environmental devastation that will cost more than A$24 million to remedy, ecologists have revealed. Writing in the new issue of the British Ecological Society’s Journal of Applied Ecology, they warn that conservation agencies worldwide must learn important lessons from what happened on Macquarie Island.

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