ScienceDaily: Top Environment News: Mosquitoes reared in cooler temperatures have weaker immune systems

Jay Owen Nature/Biomimicry

Mosquitoes reared in cooler temperatures have weaker immune systems

Posted: 03 Jun 2013 03:32 PM PDT

Scientists have discovered mosquitoes reared in cooler temperatures have weaker immune systems, making them more susceptible to dangerous viruses and thus more likely to transmit diseases to people. The finding may have a bearing on urban epidemics resulting from viral diseases, such as West Nile fever and chikungunya fever, which are transmitted by infected mosquitoes.

Enzyme from wood-eating gribble could help turn waste into biofuel

Posted: 03 Jun 2013 01:41 PM PDT

Scientists have discovered a new enzyme that could prove an important step in the quest to turn waste (such as paper, scrap wood and straw) into liquid fuel. To do this they turned to the destructive power of tiny marine wood-borers called ‘gribble’, which have been known to destroy seaside piers.

A grassy trend in human ancestors’ diets

Posted: 03 Jun 2013 01:37 PM PDT

Most apes eat leaves and fruits from trees and shrubs. New studies show that human ancestors expanded their menu 3.5 million years ago, adding tropical grasses and sedges to an ape-like diet and setting the stage for our modern diet of grains, grasses, and meat and dairy from grazing animals.

New way fish camouflage themselves in the ocean: Manipulating how light reflects off skin

Posted: 03 Jun 2013 11:23 AM PDT

Researchers found that lookdown fish camouflage themselves through a complex manipulation of polarized light after it strikes the fish skin. In laboratory studies, they showed that this kind of camouflage outperforms by up to 80 percent the “mirror” strategy that was previously thought to be state-of-the-art in fish camouflage.

Tiger moths: Mother Nature’s fortune tellers

Posted: 03 Jun 2013 11:23 AM PDT

A new study shows Bertholdia trigona, a species of tiger moth found in the Arizona desert, can tell if an echo-locating bat is going to attack it well before the predator swoops in for the kill – making the intuitive, tiny-winged insect a master of self-preservation.

No early birds getting the worms: Songbirds risk missing peak food supply

Posted: 03 Jun 2013 10:55 AM PDT

A mismatch between the departure schedules of songbirds and higher spring temperatures at their breeding sites means they are arriving ‘late’ for the advanced spring and likely missing out on peak food they need to be productive breeders.

Chimpanzees have five universal personality dimensions

Posted: 03 Jun 2013 10:55 AM PDT

While psychologists have long debated the core personality dimensions that define humanity, primate researchers have been working to uncover the defining personality traits for humankind’s closest living relative, the chimpanzee. New research provides strong support for the universal existence of five personality dimensions in chimpanzees: reactivity/undependability, dominance, openness, extraversion and agreeableness with a possible sixth factor, methodical, needing further investigation.

The jewels of the ocean: Two new species and a new genus of octocorals from the Pacific

Posted: 03 Jun 2013 10:55 AM PDT

Two new beautiful species of octocorals and a new genus have been described from the well explored west coast of North America. Despite the 3,400 known species nowadays, these colorful marine jewels continue to surprise with new discoveries which calls for a detailed exploration of the remarkable biodiversity of octocorals.

New study predicts rising irrigation costs, reduced yields for U.S. corn

Posted: 03 Jun 2013 08:39 AM PDT

Simulations predict that in 40 years, yields for corn grown for ethanol will shrink even as climate change increases the need for irrigation, according to a new study.

Threatened frogs palmed off as forests disappear

Posted: 03 Jun 2013 08:39 AM PDT

The study describes how forests converted to palm oil plantations are causing threatened forest dwelling frogs to vanish, resulting in an overall loss of habitat that is important for the conservation of threatened frog species in the region.

Female moths use olfactory signals to choose the best egg-laying sites

Posted: 03 Jun 2013 08:36 AM PDT

Researchers have discovered that the ability of Manduca sexta moths to recognize changes in the profile of volatile compounds released by plants being attacked by Manduca caterpillars allows them to lay their eggs on plants that are less likely to be attacked by insects and other predators, and to avoid competing against other caterpillars of the same species for resources.

Songbirds may give insight to nature vs. nurture

Posted: 03 Jun 2013 08:31 AM PDT

A new research technique allows neural imaging of auditory stimuli in songbirds via MRI.

Molecular switch for cheaper biofuel

Posted: 03 Jun 2013 06:23 AM PDT

Lignocellulosic waste such as sawdust or straw can be used to produce biofuel — but only if the long cellulose and xylan chains can be successfully broken down into smaller sugar molecules. To do this, fungi are used which, by means of a specific chemical signal, can be made to produce the necessary enzymes. Scientist have now genetically modified fungi in order to make biofuel production significantly cheaper.