Tag Archives: university of georgia

Exotische Beute

Neben klimatischen Entwicklungen zählt der Einfluss invasiver Arten aus der Tier- und Pflanzenwelt zu den wichtigsten Ursachen für den globalen Wandel. Dr. Anita Juen untersucht die Auswirkungen der Ankunft eines asiatischen Regenwurms auf Räuber-Beute-Beziehungen in einem der ältesten Wälder der Erde in den USA.

Sie lockern das Erdreich auf, kompostieren abgestorbene Pflanzenreste und tragen zu einem „gesunden“ Boden bei: Regenwürmer gelten als Nützlinge und sind in jedem Garten gern gesehene Gäste. Doch bereits seit einigen Jahren beginnt das positive Image dieser Würmer immer stärker zu wackeln. „Einige Arten breiten sich angesichts der verstärkten internationalen Vernetzung auf der ganzen Welt aus und können unter Umständen ganze Ökosysteme verändern“, erklärt Anita Juen vom Institut für Ökologie der Universität Innsbruck. Die Wissenschaftlerin befasst sich mit Themen wie Artenvielfalt in landwirtschaftlich genutzten Flächen oder natürliche Schädlingsregulation und erforscht mithilfe molekularer Methoden Entwicklungen in Nahrungsnetzen. In einem vom FWF geförderten Projekt mit dem Titel „Einfluss invasiver Arten auf Räuber-Beute-Beziehungen“ untersucht die Ökologin am Beispiel der asiatischen Regenwurmart Amynthas agrestis mögliche Konsequenzen dieser Invasion nicht-heimischer Würmer in einem Nationalpark im Osten der USA. Während zahlreiche Studien die teils massiven Auswirkungen auf Bodenstruktur oder Vegetation belegen, ist das Wissen über potenzielle Veränderungen in Nahrungsnetzen bisher sehr lückenhaft. „Regenwürmer spielen in der Nahrungskette eine wichtige Rolle und stehen am Speiseplan zahlreicher Arten“, sagt Juen. „Ich habe mir die Frage gestellt, ob das Eintreffen einer neuen Spezies Auswirkungen auf das Beuteschema räuberisch lebender Tiere hat“. (more…)

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Culling vampire bats to stem rabies in Latin America can backfire

ANN ARBOR — Culling vampire bat colonies to stem the transmission of rabies in Latin America does little to slow the spread of the virus and could even have the reverse effect, according to University of Michigan researchers and their colleagues.

Vampire bats transmit rabies virus throughout Latin America, causing thousands of livestock deaths each year, as well as occasional human fatalities. Poison and even explosives have been used since the 1960s in attempts to control vampire bat populations, but those culling efforts have generally failed. (more…)

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Scientists Reveal Quirky Feature of Lyme Disease Bacteria

Unlike most organisms, they don’t need iron, but they crave manganese

Scientists have confirmed that the pathogen that causes Lyme Disease—unlike any other known organism—can exist without iron, a metal that all other life needs to make proteins and enzymes. Instead of iron, the bacteria substitute manganese to make an essential enzyme, thus eluding immune system defenses that protect the body by starving pathogens of iron.

To cause disease, Borrelia burgdorferi requires unusually high levels of manganese, scientists at Johns Hopkins University (JHU), Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), and the University of Texas reported. Their study, published March 22, 2013, in The Journal of Biological Chemistry, may explain some mysteries about why Lyme Disease is slow-growing and hard to detect and treat. The findings also open the door to search for new therapies to thwart the bacterium by targeting manganese. (more…)

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New Study Reveals How Sensitive U.S. East Coast Regions May Be to Ocean Acidification

A continental-scale chemical survey in the waters of the eastern U.S. and Gulf of Mexico is helping researchers determine how distinct bodies of water will resist changes in acidity. The study, which measures varying levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other forms of carbon in the ocean, was conducted by scientists from 11 institutions across the U.S. and was published in the journal Limnology and Oceanography.

“Before now, we haven’t had a very clear picture of acidification status on the east coast of the U.S.,” says Zhaohui ‘Aleck’ Wang, the study’s lead author and a chemical oceanographer at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI). “It’s important that we start to understand it, because increase in ocean acidity could deeply affect marine life along the coast and has important implications for people who rely on aquaculture and fisheries both commercially and recreationally.” (more…)

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Flock Talk: Bird Vocalization Research Could Improve Poultry Production, Lower Costs

Chickens can’t speak, but they can definitely make themselves heard. Most people who have visited a poultry farm will recall chicken vocalization – the technical term for clucking and squawking – as a memorable part of the experience.

Researchers now believe that such avian expressiveness may be more than idle chatter. A collaborative project being conducted by the Georgia Institute of Technology and the University of Georgia is investigating whether the birds’ volubility can provide clues to how healthy and comfortable they are. (more…)

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Clouds, a Weapon Against Climate Change?

*University of Georgia researchers define a missing link in how clouds are formed*

Some clouds cool the earth. But how are these clouds formed? How does the chemistry of the ocean affect their formation? Is this process affected by climate change? Can humans affect cloud formation to increase the cooling effect of clouds, having positive implications for the health of the planet? (more…)

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