Environment News

Tuesday, November 12, 2013 - 11:11

On the continental margins, where the seafloor drops hundreds of meters below the water’s surface, low temperatures and high pressure lock methane inside ice crystals. Called methane hydrates, these crystals are a potential energy source, but they are also a potential source of global warming if massive amounts of methane were released during an earthquake or by rising ocean temperatures.

 

Friday, November 1, 2013 - 09:37

Oysters begin their lives as tiny drifters, but when they mature they settle on reefs. New research from North Carolina State University shows that the sounds of the reef may attract the young oysters, helping them locate their permanent home.

 

Monday, October 21, 2013 - 11:00

Badgers are an important wildlife reservoir for tuberculosis infection, a disease that leads thousands of cattle to slaughter each year. Now, researchers reporting in the Cell Press journal Current Biology on October 21 have found that the spread of the disease is influenced in surprising ways by infected badgers, and especially by the details of their social lives.

 

Tuesday, October 15, 2013 - 11:00

Nearly every body of water, from a puddle or a pond to a vast ocean, contains microscopic organisms that live attached to rocks, plants, and animals. These so-called sessile suspension feeders are critical to aquatic ecosystems and play an important role in cleaning up environmental contaminants by consuming bacteria. A study published by Cell Press on October 15 in the Biophysical Journal reveals that by actively changing the angle of their bodies relative to the surfaces, these feeders overcome the physical constraints presented by underwater surfaces, maximize their access to fresh, nutrient-rich water, and filter the surrounding water.

 

Tuesday, October 8, 2013 - 13:05

Blowing bubbles in the backyard is one thing and quite another when searching for oil. That distinction is at the root of new research by Rice University scientists who describe in greater detail than ever precisely how those bubbles form, evolve and act.

 

Wednesday, October 2, 2013 - 10:27

The song of songbirds is a learned, complex behavior and subject to strong selective forces. However, it is difficult to tease apart the influence of the genetic background and the environment on the expression of individual variation in song. Scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology in Seewiesen in collaboration with international researchers now compared song and brain structure of parents and offspring in zebra finches that have been raised either with their genetic or foster parents. They also varied the amount of food during breeding. Remarkably, both song and the underlying brain structure had a low heritability and were strongly influenced by environmental factors.