Tag Archives: deserts

UA Study: Evolution Too Slow to Keep Up With Climate Change

A study led by a UA ecologist has found that many species evolve too slowly to adapt to the rapid climate change expected in the next 100 years.

Many vertebrate species would have to evolve about 10,000 times faster than they have in the past to adapt to the rapid climate change expected in the next 100 years, a study led by a University of Arizona ecologist has found.

Scientists analyzed how quickly species adapted to different climates in the past, using data from 540 living species from all major groups of terrestrial vertebrates, including amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals. They then compared their rates of evolution to rates of climate change projected for the end of this century. This is the first study to compare past rates of adaption to future rates of climate change.  (more…)

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In Blown-Down Forests, a Story of Survival

To preserve forest health, the best management decision may be to do nothing

In newscasts after intense wind and ice storms, damaged trees stand out: snapped limbs, uprooted trunks, entire forests blown nearly flat.

In a storm’s wake, landowners, municipalities and state agencies are faced with important financial and environmental decisions.

A study by Harvard University researchers, supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and published in the journal Ecology, yields a surprising result: when it comes to the health of forests, native plants and wildlife, the best management decision may be to do nothing. (more…)

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Close Family Ties Keep Microbial Cheaters in Check, Study Finds

*Experiments on “slime mold” explain why almost all multicellular organisms begin life as a single cell*

Any multicellular animal, from a blue whale to a human being, poses a special challenge for evolution.

Most of the cells in its body will die without reproducing; only a privileged few will pass their genes to the next generation.

How could the extreme degree of cooperation required by multicellular existence actually evolve? Why aren’t all creatures unicellular individualists determined to pass on their own genes? (more…)

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Lichens May Aid in Combating Deadly Chronic Wasting Disease in Wildlife

MADISON, Wis. – Certain lichens can break down the infectious proteins responsible for chronic wasting disease (CWD), a troubling neurological disease fatal to wild deer and elk and spreading throughout the United States and Canada, according to U.S. Geological Survey research published today in the journal PLoS ONE.

Like other “prion” diseases, CWD is caused by unusual, infectious proteins called prions. One of the best-known of these diseases is “mad cow” disease, a cattle disease that has infected humans. However, there is no evidence that CWD has infected humans.  Disease-causing prions, responsible for some incurable neurological diseases of people and other diseases in animals, are notoriously difficult to decontaminate or kill. Prions are not killed by most detergents, cooking, freezing or by autoclaving, a method used to sterilize medical instruments. (more…)

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Between the Nightmare of the Gulf and the Magic of Solar Impulse

While the BP Deepwater Horizon well spits tens of thousands of barrels of oil offshore on the Gulf of Mexico, an environmental disaster of proportions never before imagined, a beautiful new kind of bird flies silently in the skies on its first test flight. 

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Sandstorms and desertification

Saturday, and again on Monday (22nd March) Beijing and part of eastern China was hit by two successive severe sandstorms originating in northern China. And the fine dust travelled not only to Taiwan, but as far as to the western United States.

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