U.S. Geological Survey scientists report the Grand Canyon’s food webs are contaminated with dangerously high levels of mercury and selenium. The source of the runoff pollution can be tracked down hundreds of miles upstream, coming from coal-burning electrical plants and other human sources. This shows that “remote ecosystems are vulnerable to long-range transport and subsequent bioaccumulation of contaminants,” the researchers write.
North America boasted about half a million eagles before Europeans colonized the territory. They took the influx of Old World-ers quite harshly: the loss of habitat, the strains put on them by hunting activities and the spreading of pesticides among many others resulted in a steep decline of their population in the US. In 1997, the state of Virginia reported to have only about 50 bald eagle nests occupied by the avian predators. Thankfully, their numbers are slowly increasing at present, with more than 1,000 sightings of active nests throughout the Commonwealth.
Peter Ward might be the luckiest biologist ever. In 1984, he and colleague Bruce Saunders were among the first to identify a new nautilus species called Allonautilus scrobiculatus. Since then, the spiral shelled creature was only spotted once then disappeared for nearly three decades. This year, Ward returned to Papua New Guinea to survey nautilus populations and found the rare nautilus species once again!
The road to hell is paved with good intentions. In a bid to curb global emissions, the carbon credit scheme was introduced by the UN as an annex to the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. Apparently, this honestly good idea has backfired after some participants in the scheme, most notably from Russian and Ukraine, took advantage. Lack of international oversight means a couple of factories have turned in a huge profit while emissions have actually gone up to support the scheme. A classic case of perverse incentive or good idea gone bad. This time, at the global climate’s expense.
For millennia, they’ve been the uncontested kings of the mountains, killing things up to three times bigger than them. One Indian snow leopard, protected and observed in a national park, is reported to have consumed five blue sheep, nine Tibetan woolly hares, twenty-five marmots, five domestic goats, one domestic sheep, and fifteen birds – in a single year! For an animal that typically weighs under 50 kgs, that’s quite remarkable.
Scientists from the Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) and Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) have discovered a way to give antibodies the ability to fight a wide range of influenza subtypes. Their work has great potential to one day eliminate the need for repeated seasonal flu shots.
The revolutionary wave that swept Arab nations beginning with 2011 displaced millions and cost the lives of hundreds of thousands. On the bright side, the dampened economic activity caused a significant lapse in greenhouse emissions. In some extreme cases, nitrogen dioxide values have decreased by 40 to 50% over Damascus and Aleppo, according to a new study published by the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry.
The officials of Lake Havasu have taken a laudable measure: they’re offering free mussel decontamination for boats, in an attempt to stop the spread of a very dangerous species, the quagga mussel. The quagga mussel (Dreissena bugensis) is a species of freshwater mussel named after the quagga, an extinct subspecies of African zebra. A rather interesting creature in itself, the mussel is
The fact that the greatest biodiversity of large mammals we know of today is recorded in Africa is a legacy of past human activity, not climate or environmental phenomena, new study reveals. The paper theorizes at how the world today would look if Homo sapiens had never existed.
In a previous analysis, the researchers from Aarhus Univeristy, Denmark, they showed how the mass extinction of large mammals during the last Ice Age and the subsequent millennia, most notably the late-Quaternary megafauna extinction, is largely explainable by the expansion of modern humans across the world.
Did you notice something strange about this July? It was hot! Sure, July is supposed to be hot (at least for most of the world), but even by July standards it was hot. If you too have felt like this, you weren’t imagining things: the NOAA recently announced that this July was the hottest month ever recorded, and January-July 2015 was