Earth

Hundreds of marine turtles die every year after becoming entangled in rubbish in the oceans and on beaches, including plastic 'six pack' holders and disgarded fishing gear.

The rise in plastic refuse in the ocean and on beaches is killing turtles of all species, with a disproportionate impact on hatchlings and young turtles, research by the University of Exeter shows.

WASHINGTON -- Using nanoscale grass-like structures, researchers at the University of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania have created glass that lets through a large amount of light while appearing hazy. This is the first time that glass has been made with such high levels of haze and light transmittance at the same time, a combination of properties that could help boost the performance of solar cells and LEDs.

Just as rivers move sediment across the land, turbidity currents are the dominant process carrying sediments and organic carbon from coastal areas into the deep sea. Turbidity currents can also destroy underwater cables, pipelines, and other human structures. Unlike rivers, however, turbidity currents are extremely difficult to study and measure.

Concerns about biodiversity tend to focus on the loss of species, but a new study suggests that the loss of variation within species can also have important and unexpected consequences on the environment.

Many species play important roles in nature and provide services important to people. For example, many fish species are harvested for food, and many insect species pollinate wild and cultivated plants. The loss of these species may mean the loss of ecosystem services, which is a major motivation for preventing species extinctions.

The arrival of a single Black-backed Oriole bird in rural Pennsylvania - 5000 kilometres from its usual home in Mexico - was worth an estimated $US 223,851 to the economy from bird watchers flocking to see it.

The study, by a UNSW Sydney-led team, is the first to quantify the economic impact of a vagrant bird - a species observed outside its normal geographic range.

A new article by a UNSW Sydney-led team challenges the validity of current methods for forecasting the persistence of slow-growing species for conservation purposes, and provides a better approach to reducing the threat of extinction.

Previous research on wild dolphins in Australia and wild bears in North America has revealed that reproductive success is the best predictor of the viability of these long-lived populations, rather than their survival rates.

An international team of marine researchers led by Dr Neo Mei Lin and Associate Professor Peter Todd from the National University of Singapore (NUS) has recently published a comprehensive study on the status of giant clams worldwide. Between 2014 to 2016, the scientists involved in this massive endeavour re-examined and updated the taxonomy, distribution, abundance, and conservation status of all species of giant clams.

One of the biggest challenges of mitigating the danger of hurricanes is predicting where a storm will make landfall and estimating how powerful it will be when it hits. Researchers Dr. Toshiro Tanimoto and Annie Valovcin at University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) are looking at new methods to monitor the intensity of hurricanes using seismic data.

Collared flycatchers are small passerine birds that are expanding their European breeding range towards the north in response to global climate warming. Approximately 50 years ago this species started to colonize Öland, an island in the Baltic Sea, and has since then expelled members of a closely related species - the pied flycatcher - from preferred habitats through competition over nest sites and hybridization i.e. mixed breeding between species. Hybridizing between the species is harmful as hybrid individuals do not produce offspring.

CINCINNATI -- Women exposed to air pollution just prior to conception or during the first month of pregnancy face an increased risk of their children being born with birth defects, such as cleft lip or palate or abnormal hearts.

Although the increased risk is modest, the potential impact on a population basis is noteworthy because all pregnant women have some amount of exposure.