Ecology

03/19/2014 - 13:55

A forest in South Carolina, a supercomputer in Ohio and some glow-in-the-dark yarn have helped a team of field ecologists conclude that woodland corridors connecting patches of endangered plants not only increase dispersal of seeds from one patch to another, but also create wind conditions that can spread the seeds for much longer distances.

 

02/24/2014 - 14:55

In a surprising new finding, researchers have discovered that bacterial movement is impeded in flowing water, enhancing the likelihood that the microbes will attach to surfaces. The new work could have implications for the study of marine ecosystems, and for our understanding of how infections take hold in medical devices.

 

02/20/2014 - 12:00

The widespread loss of forest to sugarcane fields on the island of Mauritius has forced kestrels living there to survive by speeding up their life histories, according to a report published online on February 20 in the Cell Press journal Current Biology. By getting an earlier start, the birds are managing to have just as many offspring, even though they die sooner.

 

01/27/2014 - 23:43

A new catalytic converter that could cut fuel consumption and manufacturing costs has been designed by a scientist from Imperial College London. A catalytic converter is the component in a vehicle’s exhaust system that eliminates harmful emissions. Tests suggest that the new prototype could reduce fuel consumption in a standard vehicle by up to three per cent. It could also deliver environmental benefits by reducing the amount of CO₂ that each vehicle emits.

 

01/21/2014 - 12:59

Waterborne microorganisms could help to save frogs and toads from a skin-eating fungus that threatens amphibians around the world. Scientists have discovered that certain aquatic microbes, including single-celled protozoans and tiny animals called rotifers, can consume large quantities of the fungal spores that spread disease.

 

01/17/2014 - 11:25

The biological term “symbiosis” refers to what economists and politicians usually call a win-win situation: a relationship between two partners which is beneficial to both. The mutualistic association between acacia plants and the ants that live on them is an excellent example: The plants provide food and accommodation in the form of food bodies and nectar as well as hollow thorns which can be used as nests. The ants return this favour by protecting the plants against herbivores. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology in Jena, Germany, have now found that ants also keep harmful leaf pathogens in check.