Earth

Ancient El Niños triggered Baja bunny booms

Ancient  El Niños triggered Baja bunny booms

At times during the past 10,000 years, cottontails and hares reproduced like rabbits and their numbers surged when the El Niño weather pattern drenched the Pacific Coast with rain, according to a University of Utah analysis of 3,463 bunny bones.

The study of ancient rabbit populations at a Baja California site may help scientists better understand how mammals that range from the coast to the interior will respond to climate change, says anthropology doctoral student Isaac Hart. He is first author of the study to be published in the July issue of the journal Quaternary Research.

Astronomers discover a young solar system around a nearby star

Astronomers discover a young solar system around a nearby star

An international team led by Thayne Currie of the Subaru Telescope and using the Gemini South telescope, has discovered a young planetary system that shares remarkable similarities to our own early solar system. Their images reveal a ring-like disk of debris surrounding a Sun-like star, in a birth environment similar to the Sun's. The disk appears to be sculpted by at least one unseen solar system-like planet, is roughly the same size as our solar system's Edgeworth-Kuiper Belt (commonly called the Kuiper Belt), and may contain dust and icy particles.

Yeast protein network could provide insights into human obesity

Yeast protein network could provide insights into human obesity

A team of biologists and a mathematician have identified and characterized a network composed of 94 proteins that work together to regulate fat storage in yeast.

"Removal of any one of the proteins results in an increase in cellular fat content, which is analogous to obesity," says study coauthor Bader Al-Anzi, a research scientist at Caltech. The findings, detailed in the May issue of the journal PLOS Computational Biology, suggest that yeast could serve as a valuable test organism for studying human obesity.

Insect mating behavior has lessons for drones

Insect mating behavior has lessons for drones

Male moths locate females by navigating along the latter's pheromone (odor) plume, often flying hundreds of meters to do so. Two strategies are involved to accomplish this: males must find the outer envelope of the pheromone plume, and then head upwind.

Can understanding such insect behavior be useful for robotics research? Yes, according to two entomologists whose research using computer simulations shows that such insect behavior has implications for airborne robots (drones) that ply the sky searching for signature odors.

How to cut a vortex into slices

A lot of problems, associated with the mixing of the liquid in the microchannels, could be solved via proper organization of the inhomogeneous slip on the walls of these channels. This is the conclusion made by the joint group of Russian and German scientists lead by Olga Vinogradova, who is a professor at the M.V. Lomonosov Moscow State University and also a head of laboratory at the A.N. Frumkin Institute of Physical chemistry and Electrochemistry of the Russian Academy of Sciences. The article describing their theory was published in the latest issue of the journal Physical Review E.

Genetic variation of stress hormone receptor may affect vulnerability to major depression

Scientists are beginning to unwrap the biology behind why some people are more prone to major depression and other psychiatric disorders than others when experiencing stressful life events.

The researchers found that cellular activity in response to stress hormone receptor activation differs from individual to individual.

Air pollution below EPA standards linked with higher death rates

A new study by researchers at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health found that death rates among people over 65 are higher in zip codes with more fine particulate air pollution (PM2.5) than in those with lower levels of PM2.5. It is the first study to examine the effect of soot particles in the air in the entire population of a region, including rural areas. The harmful effects from the particles were observed even in areas where concentrations were less than a third of the current standard set by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Weight-loss surgery puts spark back into relationships

Bariatric surgery does not only benefit the health of patients who undergo this weight loss procedure. It also leads to greater intimacy between them and their life partners, and adds a spark to their sex life. It's all in all a shared journey that brings partners closer together, says Mary Lisa Pories of East Carolina University in the US, lead author of a study providing insights into the experience of couples after one of the partners underwent weight loss surgery. The findings are published in Springer's journal Obesity Surgery.

Warmer climates may increase pesticides' toxicity in fish

In a study of the effects of increasing climate temperatures on the toxicity of 3 contaminants in different fish species, researchers found that all pesticides and industrial contaminants studied--endosulfan, chlorpyrifos, and phenol--became toxic in the upper 5oC range of species' temperature tolerance.

Soil erosion contributes significantly to global carbon emissions

Soil erosion that occurs in rainy seasons leads to a significant amount of carbon being released into the atmosphere, a new study shows.

Investigators who analyzed 240 runoff plots from different regions of the world found that organic carbon losses from soils corresponds to about one-sixth of annual fossil fuel-induced carbon emissions with highest rates for semi-arid soils followed by tropical soils and temperate soils.