ScienceDaily: Top Environment News:When hungry, Gulf of Mexico algae go toxic

Jay Owen Earth Systems Science

ScienceDaily: Top Environment News

When hungry, Gulf of Mexico algae go toxic

Posted: 12 Mar 2013 02:16 PM PDT

When Gulf of Mexico algae don’t get enough nutrients, they focus their remaining energy on becoming more and more poisonous to ensure their survival, according to a new study.

European invader outcompetes Canadian plants even outside its usual temperature range

Posted: 12 Mar 2013 12:20 PM PDT

Vincetoxicum rossicum, commonly known as dog-strangling vine, is an alien invasive plant from the Ukraine and southwestern Russia that has now established itself in the northeastern United States and southern Ontario, Canada. This species successfully displaces local native plants, demonstrating high tolerance for environmental variables such as light and soil moisture.

Canadian Arctic glacier melt accelerating, irreversible, projections suggest

Posted: 12 Mar 2013 10:49 AM PDT

Ongoing glacier loss in the Canadian high Arctic is accelerating and probably irreversible, new model projections suggest. The Canadian high Arctic is home to the largest clustering of glacier ice outside of Greenland and Antarctica — 146,000 square kilometers (about 60,000 square miles) of glacier ice spread across 36,000 islands.

Four dinosaur egg species identified in Lleida, Spain

Posted: 12 Mar 2013 10:49 AM PDT

Scientists have for the first time documented detailed records of dinosaur egg fossils in the Coll de Nargó archaeological site in Lleida, Spain. Up until now, only one type of dinosaur egg had been documented in the region.

Sri Lankan snake study reveals new species, rich biodiversity in island country

Posted: 12 Mar 2013 10:49 AM PDT

Alex Pyron’s expertise is in family trees. Who is related to whom, who begat whom, how did they get where they are now. But not for humans: reptiles.

Heat-stressed cows spend more time standing

Posted: 12 Mar 2013 10:47 AM PDT

Animal scientists have found that cows stand for longer bouts of time on hot days. Standing allows cows to cool off, but standing also uses up more energy. If cows are encouraged to lie down, they may be more healthy and productive.

Mystery of ‘zombie worm’ development unveiled

Posted: 12 Mar 2013 10:45 AM PDT

How do bone-eating worms reproduce? A new study sheds light on this question through a detailed observation of the postembryonic development and sexual maturation of Osedax worms, also known as “zombie worms.” These worms typically inhabit vertebrate bones on the seafloor.

NASA Rover Finds Conditions Once Suited for Ancient Life on Mars

Posted: 12 Mar 2013 10:17 AM PDT

An analysis of a rock sample collected by NASA’s Curiosity rover shows ancient Mars could have supported living microbes. Scientists identified sulfur, nitrogen, hydrogen, oxygen, phosphorus and carbon — some of the key chemical ingredients for life — in the powder Curiosity drilled out of a sedimentary rock near an ancient stream bed in Gale Crater on the Red Planet last month.

Antarctic and Arctic insects use different genetic mechanisms to cope with lack of water

Posted: 12 Mar 2013 09:18 AM PDT

Although they live in similarly extreme ecosystems at opposite ends of the world, Antarctic insects appear to employ entirely different methods at the genetic level to cope with extremely dry conditions than their counterparts that live north of the Arctic Circle, according to a new study.

Cryptic clams: Biologists find species hiding in plain view

Posted: 12 Mar 2013 09:18 AM PDT

Cryptic comments seem to have an ambiguous, obscure or hidden meaning. In biology, cryptic species are outwardly indistinguishable groups whose differences are hidden inside their genes.

Scientists identify why some fathers are left holding the baby

Posted: 12 Mar 2013 09:18 AM PDT

A century old mystery as to why, for some animals, it’s the father rather than the mother that takes care of their young has been cracked by scientists.

Eel migration study reveals porbeagle shark predation in the Gulf of St. Lawrence

Posted: 12 Mar 2013 09:11 AM PDT

Satellite tracking tags used to elucidate the migratory path of American eels from the St. Lawrence River to the Sargasso Sea prematurely detached from the specimens leading investigators to suspect significant predation during the eels’ journey. Data from the tags revealed stomach temperatures and dive patterns consistent with porbeagle sharks. In addition to data collected by the satellite tags, only 4% of acoustically tagged eels were detected migrating into the Atlantic Ocean via the Cabot Strait (a major migratory pathway between Nova Scotia and Newfoundland). The study precedes the recent vote by CITES to more strictly enforce protection of five shark species including porbeagle sharks as well as recent international studies on the worldwide decline of sharks.

Fungi may be able to replace plastics one day

Posted: 12 Mar 2013 09:08 AM PDT

Fungi, with the exception of shitake and certain other mushrooms, tend to be something we associate with moldy bread or dank-smelling mildew. But they really deserve more respect, say researchers. Fungi have fantastic capabilities and can be grown, under certain circumstances, in almost any shape and be totally biodegradable. And, if this weren’t enough, they might have the potential to replace plastics one day. The secret is in the mycelia.

Logging debris gives newly planted Douglas-fir forests a leg-up

Posted: 12 Mar 2013 07:25 AM PDT

The downed limbs and other woody debris that are inevitable byproducts of timber harvest could be among the most important components of post-harvest landscapes, according to a new study.

Exercise during gestation might affect future fertility

Posted: 12 Mar 2013 07:25 AM PDT

Researchers have found that exercising pregnant sows could affect ovarian development in their fetuses. Fetuses from exercised sows had greater cell proliferation in their ovaries.

Spiders, not birds, may drive evolution of some butterflies

Posted: 12 Mar 2013 07:25 AM PDT

Butterflies are among the most vibrant insects, with colorations sometimes designed to deflect predators. New research shows some of these defenses may be driven by enemies one-tenth their size.

Earliest tobacco use in Pacific Northwest discovered

Posted: 12 Mar 2013 07:10 AM PDT

Native American hunter-gatherers living more than a thousand years ago in what is now northwestern California ate salmon, acorns and other foods, and now we know they also smoked tobacco — the earliest known usage in the Pacific Northwest, according to a new study.

Pesticide application as potential source of noroviruses in fresh food supply chains

Posted: 12 Mar 2013 06:29 AM PDT

Contaminated water used to dilute pesticides could be responsible for viruses entering the food chain, warn scientists.

Fluorescent light revealed as gauge of coral health: Mysterious glow of light found to correlate with coral stress prior to bleaching

Posted: 12 Mar 2013 06:29 AM PDT

Coral reef decline in recent years due to a variety of threats — from pollution to climate warming — has lent urgency to the search for new ways to evaluate their health. A new study has revealed that fluorescence, the dazzling but poorly understood light produced by corals, can be an effective tool for gauging their health.

Prenatal exposure to pesticide DDT linked to adult high blood pressure

Posted: 12 Mar 2013 06:26 AM PDT

Infant girls exposed to high levels of the pesticide DDT while still inside the womb are three times more likely to develop hypertension when they become adults, according to a new study.

What impact does a day of roller derby have on our skin microbiome? Skaters skin microbiomes get mixed up ’bouting’

Posted: 12 Mar 2013 06:26 AM PDT

The human skin is home to countless microorganisms that we can’t see, but these microbes help define who we are. Our invisible passengers — known as the skin microbiome — contribute to our health in numerous ways including educating our immune system, protecting us from pathogens, and mediating skin disorders. In a new study, researchers investigated how the skin microbiome is transmitted between players in a contact sport, using roller derby as their model system.

First cell movements in the embryo decoded

Posted: 12 Mar 2013 06:25 AM PDT

Scientist have elucidated the molecular control mechanisms that transform the initially tightly cohesive earliest cells of the zebrafish embryo so that the first major cell migration in their development is initiated.

Glaciers contribute significant iron to North Atlantic Ocean

Posted: 11 Mar 2013 09:40 AM PDT

A new study by biogeochemists identifies a large, unexpected source of iron to the North Atlantic — meltwater from glaciers and ice sheets, which may stimulate plankton growth during spring and summer. This source is likely to increase as melting of the Greenland ice sheet escalates under a warming climate.

Researchers develop tools for discovering new species

Posted: 11 Mar 2013 09:40 AM PDT

For hundreds of years, naturalists and scientists have identified new species based on an organism’s visible differences. But now, new genetic techniques are revealing that different species can show little to no visible differences. In a just-published study, evolutionary biologists combine traditional morphological tests plus genetic techniques to describe new species. Groups of morphologically similar organisms that show very divergent genetics are generally termed “cryptic species.”

Ground-level ozone falling faster than model predicted

Posted: 11 Mar 2013 09:39 AM PDT

While dangerous ozone levels have fallen with reductions in emissions from vehicles and industry, a new study suggests a model widely used to predict the impact of remediation efforts has been too conservative.