Nature News -- ScienceDaily

Nature. Read the latest scientific research on the natural world, ecology and climate change.

Iron deficiency restrains marine microbes

Fri, 19 May 2017 08:36:28 EDT

Iron is a critical nutrient in the ocean. Its importance for algae and the nitrogen cycle has already been investigated in detail. Now a new discovery shows that microbes also need iron to process phosphorus. A team of researchers has completed a study showing that iron can limit phosphorus acquisition in the ocean. Their study contributes to knowledge of nutrient cycling in the ocean.

A tale of two sites: Marine scientists determine how the larvae of a common coral species respond to environmental stresses in Taiwan, Moorea

Tue, 16 May 2017 15:39:38 EDT

Marine scientists determine how the larvae of a common coral species respond to environmental stresses in Taiwan and Moorea.

New coral reef fish species shows rare parental care behavior

Thu, 18 May 2017 14:38:55 EDT

The vast majority of coral reef fish produce large numbers of young that disperse into the ocean as larvae, drifting with the currents before settling down on a reef. A few reef fish, however keep their broods on the reef, protecting the young until they are big enough to fend for themselves. On a recent trip to the Philippines, researchers discovered a new species of damselfish that exhibits this unusual parental care behavior.

Picky fruit-eating birds are more flexible

Thu, 11 May 2017 09:52:30 EDT

South American birds that are seasonally specialized on particular fruit types are the most flexible in switching to different fruit types in other seasons, researchers have found. This flexibility in their diet is good news in view of the predicted loss of plant species under global change, say the investigators.

Myanmar's extensive forests are declining rapidly due to political and economic change

Wed, 17 May 2017 14:36:20 EDT

The loss of intact forest cover in Myanmar has accelerated over the last decade, according to a new study.

Targeted conservation could protect more of Earth's biodiversity

Thu, 25 May 2017 10:02:47 EDT

Major gains in global biodiversity can be achieved if an additional 5 percent of land is set aside to protect key species, say experts. Scientists report such an effort could triple the protected range of those species and safeguard their functional diversity. The findings underscore the need to look beyond species numbers when developing conservation strategies, the researchers said.

Increased protection of world's national animal symbols needed, suggests study

Wed, 24 May 2017 15:26:24 EDT

The snowy-feathered head and distinctive brown body of the bald eagle is a proud national symbol of the United States, adorning the country's currency and passports. The lion, known as 'King of the Beasts,' represents national strength and identity in several African countries. But, how are populations of the planet's most valued wildlife faring in the 21st century? How well are societies protecting the species they have chosen to embody their ideals and represent their national identity?

How have European freshwater fish species changed over time?

Wed, 17 May 2017 09:05:23 EDT

Over time, humans have contributed to the loss of native species and have introduced non-native species throughout Europe. A new analysis shows how European freshwater fish have changed profoundly since 1840. At the continental scale, the contemporary fauna holds net 11 more species today as exotic species introduction (26 species) exceeded native species loss (15 species). But the biggest change was made by European species introduced from one area in Europe to another (77 species), often with fatal results.

Antarctic has seen widespread change in last 50 years, moss study reveals

Thu, 18 May 2017 14:03:38 EDT

In 2013, researchers studying mosses and microbes growing at the southern end of the Antarctic Peninsula documented unprecedented ecological change over the last 50 years, driven by warming temperatures. Now, the same research group has confirmed that those striking changes in the Antarctic are widespread, occurring all across the Peninsula.

Rising temperatures threaten stability of Tibetan alpine grasslands

Wed, 10 May 2017 07:55:41 EDT

A warming climate could affect the stability of alpine grasslands in Asia's Tibetan Plateau, threatening the ability of farmers and herders to maintain the animals that are key to their existence, and potentially upsetting the ecology of an area in which important regional river systems originate, says a new study.

Extreme weather has greater impact on nature than expected

Tue, 16 May 2017 10:47:32 EDT

An oystercatcher nest is washed away in a storm surge. Australian passerine birds die during a heatwave. A late frost in their breeding area kills off a group of American cliff swallows. Small tragedies that may seem unrelated, but point to the underlying long-term impact of extreme climatic events.

Border walls may pose big challenges to biodiversity, but smaller ones to humans

Wed, 24 May 2017 13:12:13 EDT

Walls such as the proposed barrier along the US-Mexico border lead to habitat fragmentation and can close off animal populations by impeding movement.

Jurassic drop in ocean oxygen lasted a million years

Fri, 12 May 2017 08:13:27 EDT

Dramatic drops in oceanic oxygen, which cause mass extinctions of sea life, come to a natural end -- but it takes about a million years.

Federally subsidized shrubs, grasses crucial to sage grouse survival in Washington

Tue, 09 May 2017 16:11:37 EDT

The federal program that pays farmers to plant agricultural land with environmentally beneficial vegetation is probably the reason that sage grouse still live in portions of Washington's Columbia Basin.

Migratory birds bumped off schedule as climate change shifts spring

Mon, 15 May 2017 09:11:26 EDT

New research shows climate change is altering the delicate seasonal clock that North American migratory songbirds rely on to successfully mate and raise healthy offspring, setting in motion a domino effect that could threaten the survival of many familiar backyard bird species.

How dinosaurs may have evolved into birds

Mon, 29 May 2017 14:22:32 EDT

A possible genetic mechanism underlying the evolution of birds has been discovered by scientists. Studies of dinosaur fossils that show bird-like traits, such as feathers, light bones, air sacs and three-digit forelimbs, clarified evolutionary kinship of birds and dinosaurs. However, identifying genomic DNA changes during this evolutionary transition has remained a challenge.

Whales only recently evolved into giants when changing ice, oceans concentrated prey

Wed, 24 May 2017 11:00:24 EDT

A team of scientists have traced the evolution of whale size through more than 30 million years of history and found that very large whales appeared along several branches of the family tree about 2 to 3 million years ago. Increasing ice sheets in the Northern Hemisphere during this period likely altered the way whales' food was distributed in the oceans and enhanced the benefits of a large body size, the scientists say.

Significant increase of invasive seaweed changing sea habitat

Tue, 09 May 2017 19:21:21 EDT

Walking along the beaches of New England, it's easy to spot large amounts of fine red seaweed clogging the coastline, the result of sweeping changes beneath the water. Researchers looked at seaweed populations over the last 30 years in the Southwestern Gulf of Maine and found the once predominant kelp beds are declining and more invasive species have taken their place, altering the seascape and marine food chain.

Fake caterpillar study reveals global pattern in predation

Thu, 18 May 2017 14:38:12 EDT

A new study revealing the world's prime insect predation hotspots, achieved its landmark findings using an unusual aid: plasticine 'dummy caterpillars.' The new study has revealed a global pattern of predation on insect herbivores. The trends observed were surprising, revealing that predatory behavior in the tropics is not driven by birds or mammals but by ants and other small arthropods.

Transforming how complex marine data is synthesized

Tue, 23 May 2017 14:41:13 EDT

Scientists are transforming how complex marine data from the Ocean Health Index is synthesized, communicated and used for coastal management.

Solving the mystery of the white oak

Wed, 17 May 2017 17:44:33 EDT

Researchers have solved a mystery that has long shrouded our understanding of white oaks: where did they come from?

Going with the flow: The forces that affect species' movements in a changing climate

Wed, 24 May 2017 08:45:03 EDT

Ocean currents affect how climate change impacts movements of species to cooler regions. A new study provides novel insight into how species' distributions change from the interaction between climate change and ocean currents.

Ancient genetic markers in sockeye salmon can help manage healthier fish stocks

Thu, 25 May 2017 12:56:46 EDT

A recent study identifies new genetic markers in sockeye salmon that can help improve management of fish populations.

Three new sub-species of snow leopard discovered

Thu, 11 May 2017 14:19:41 EDT

A recent research paper reveals that there are three sub-species of snow leopard. Until now, researchers had assumed this species, Panthera uncia, was monotypic.

Climate change refuge for corals discovered (and how we can protect it right now)

Wed, 17 May 2017 12:05:56 EDT

Scientists have discovered a refuge for corals where the environment protects otherwise sensitive species to the increasing severity of climate change.

Tiny shells indicate big changes to global carbon cycle

Thu, 25 May 2017 16:13:26 EDT

Experiments with tiny, shelled organisms in the ocean suggest big changes to the global carbon cycle are underway, according to a new study.

The perils of publishing location data for endangered species

Thu, 25 May 2017 14:15:49 EDT

While the increasing accessibility of data from scientific studies creates many benefits -- and represents a process that should be broadly embraced -- in the context of conserving endangered species it can actually be problematic, experts say.

New study upends established models of forecasting coextinction in complex ecosystems

Mon, 15 May 2017 11:18:33 EDT

Many species may not be as susceptible to coextinction events as once thought, new research suggests. This new understanding hinges on how dependent individual species are on their mutualist relationships.

Sowing new seeds of knowledge about the drivers of plant diversity

Wed, 17 May 2017 09:06:36 EDT

A new study of Australian wildflower communities is improving understanding of how climatic stress controls plant diversity, based on the strategies different species use to survive, grow and reproduce.

Human-induced deforestation is causing an increase in malaria cases

Tue, 23 May 2017 08:19:01 EDT

A new study of 67 less-developed, malaria-endemic nations finds a link between deforestation and increasing malaria rates across developing nations.

Scientist identify key locations for spread of pin-tailed whydahs

Thu, 11 May 2017 13:58:47 EDT

Invasive parasites are a biological oxymoron. And yet, they are in our backyards. A new study analyzes the case of a brood parasitic bird, the pin-tailed whydah (Vidua macroura) and its recent spread into the Americas.

'Narco-deforestation' study links loss of Central American tropical forests to cocaine

Tue, 16 May 2017 14:33:58 EDT

Central American tropical forests are beginning to disappear at an alarming rate, threatening the livelihood of indigenous peoples there and endangering some of the most biologically diverse ecosystems in North America. The culprit? Cocaine.

Impact of invasive plants can linger long after eradication

Thu, 18 May 2017 14:02:11 EDT

It is easy to assume that getting rid of invasive plants will allow a local ecosystem to return to its natural state, with native vegetation flourishing once again. However, the impact of weedy invaders can linger for years, a new report outlines.

Gladiator games: In the natural world, biodiversity can offer protection to weaker species

Mon, 15 May 2017 11:15:55 EDT

In a study of competition among fungal species, researchers have found that biodiversity tends to beget biodiversity, a finding that could help in efforts to protect some of the world's most threatened ecosystems, including coral reefs.

Herpetologists describe an elf frog from the elfin forests in southern Vietnam

Fri, 19 May 2017 10:04:35 EDT

Going under the common name of Elfin mountain toad, a new amphibian is recognized as one of the smallest representative of its group. The new species was identified from the highland wet forests of Langbian Plateau, Southern Vietnam. The discoverers gave it this name that derives from German and Celtic folklore because of the resemblance they found between the tiny delicate amphibians and elves - small magic creatures. Furthermore, their habitat is known as elfin forests.

'Fathers do matter' for the wandering albatross

Tue, 16 May 2017 09:08:12 EDT

Biologists have been looking at the body mass of the wandering albatross. Variation in body mass distribution is expected to have consequences for the conversation of particular species.

Increased leaf abundance is a double-edged sword

Thu, 25 May 2017 14:15:56 EDT

A new global assessment reveals that increases in leaf abundance are causing boreal areas to warm and arid regions to cool. The results suggest that recent changes in global vegetation have had impacts on local climates that should be considered in the design of local mitigation and adaptation plans.

Measuring the impact of a changing climate on threatened Yellowstone grizzly bears

Thu, 11 May 2017 14:19:49 EDT

A new analysis of Yellowstone grizzly bear diets reveals that grizzlies in the region continue to feed upon the products of an endangered tree species currently declining at the hands of climate change. Such changes are forcing some bears to look for more varied food sources. The researchers say the results call for increased monitoring efforts in the region.

Travel distances of juvenile fish key to better conservation

Tue, 16 May 2017 11:43:02 EDT

Marine reserves -- sections of the ocean where fishing is prohibited -- promote coral reef sustainability by preventing overfishing and increasing fish abundance and diversity. But to be effective, they need to be sized right, and in a way that accounts for how far juvenile fish travel away from their parents after spawning.

Climate stabilization: Planting trees cannot replace cutting carbon dioxide emissions

Thu, 18 May 2017 10:40:38 EDT

Growing plants and then storing the carbon dioxide they have taken up from the atmosphere is no viable option to counteract unmitigated emissions from fossil fuel burning, a new study shows. The plantations would need to be so large, they would eliminate most natural ecosystems or reduce food production if implemented as a late-regret option in the case of substantial failure to reduce emissions.

Wolves need space to roam to control expanding coyote populations

Tue, 23 May 2017 08:37:19 EDT

Wolves and other top predators need large ranges to be able to control smaller predators whose populations have expanded, according to a new study. The results were similar across three continents, showing that as top predators' ranges were cut back and fragmented, they were no longer able to control smaller predators.

Conservation and nameless earthworms: Assessors in the dark?

Tue, 23 May 2017 08:33:58 EDT

Earthworms help to ensure that ecosystems thrive. However, people find it hard to relate to animals that are known by their scientific names only. Meanwhile, threatened earthworms may go extinct simply because they are often excluded from environmental assessments. A recently compiled list of standardized English names for earthworms in KwaZulu-Natal Province, South Africa is meant to address this lack of conservation attention.

Wind blows young migrant birds to all corners of Africa

Wed, 24 May 2017 08:46:02 EDT

Migrant birds that breed in the same area in Europe spread out across all of Africa during the northern winter. A new satellite-tracking study shows that the destination of individual birds is largely determined by the wind conditions they encounter during their first migration.

Modeling invasive activity: Zebra mussels' infiltration of North American rivers

Thu, 25 May 2017 10:03:28 EDT

The invasion of nonnative species has widespread and detrimental effects on local and global ecosystems. These intruders often spread and multiply prolifically, displace native species, alter the intended interactions between flora and fauna, and damage the environment and economy. Scientists now present a continuous-discrete hybrid population model that describes the invasive dynamics of zebra mussels in North American rivers.

Evolution in butterfly eye dependent on sex, scientists find

Thu, 18 May 2017 14:03:08 EDT

By analyzing both the genes that control color detecting photoreceptors and the structural components of the eye itself, evolutionary biologists have discovered male and female butterflies of one particular species have the unique ability to see the world differently from each another because of sex-related evolutionary traits.

Hotspots show that vegetation alters climate by up to 30 percent

Mon, 29 May 2017 13:37:05 EDT

A new study that analyzes global satellite observations shows that vegetation alters climate and weather patterns by as much as 30 percent. The researchers used a new approach and found feedbacks between the atmosphere and vegetation can be strong, explaining up to 30 percent of variability in precipitation and surface radiation.

Wild orangutan teeth provide insight into human breast-feeding evolution

Wed, 17 May 2017 18:45:16 EDT

Biomarkers in the teeth of wild orangutans indicate nursing patterns related to food fluctuations in their habitats, which can help guide understanding of breast-feeding evolution in humans, according to a study.

Marine species distribution shifts will continue under ocean warming

Sat, 27 May 2017 11:06:28 EDT

Scientists using a high-resolution global climate model and historical observations of species distributions on the Northeast US Shelf have found that commercially important species will continue to shift their distribution as ocean waters warm two to three times faster than the global average through the end of this century. Projected increases in surface to bottom waters of 6.6 to 9 degrees F (3.7 to 5.0 degrees C) from current conditions are expected.

Protecting Peru's river dolphins

Tue, 16 May 2017 08:08:02 EDT

River dolphins and Amazonian manatees in Peru will benefit from new protection thanks to a newly developed plan.

Natural disasters pose grave threat to planet's last Javan rhinos

Wed, 10 May 2017 11:53:24 EDT

The world's only population of Javan rhinoceros, already under severe threat from poaching, could go extinct in the future due to natural disasters, including volcanic eruptions and tsunamis.

A mammoth task: How do we decide which species to resurrect?

Tue, 16 May 2017 09:26:15 EDT

The resurrection of vanished species -- through cutting-edge technologies such as gene-editing -- should be targeted towards recently extinct species rather than ancient ones, according to a conservation biologist. He suggests that long-gone species such as the woolly mammoth would not be the best focus for de-extinction efforts.

'Trojan fish': Invasive rabbitfish spread invasive species

Wed, 17 May 2017 11:16:46 EDT

For some time, unicellular benthic organisms from the Indo-Pacific have been spreading in the Mediterranean. An international team of scientists has now found evidence that a possible path of invasion has been in the gut of fish.

Migratory seabird deaths linked to hurricanes

Thu, 11 May 2017 16:53:45 EDT

Stronger and more frequent hurricanes may pose a new threat to the sooty tern, a species of migratory seabird found throughout the Caribbean and Mid-Atlantic, a new study reveals. The study is the first to map the birds' annual migratory path and demonstrate how its timing and trajectory place them in the direct path of hurricanes moving into the Caribbean from the Atlantic. Climate change may increase the risk.

Global distribution of sea animals

Thu, 11 May 2017 09:50:32 EDT

Researchers analyze data about the global distribution of sea animals and develop a Web app.

Changing climate could have devastating impact on forest carbon storage

Thu, 25 May 2017 16:39:19 EDT

Biologists have shown what could be a startling drop in the amount of carbon stored in the Sierra Nevada mountains due to projected climate change and wildfire events.

Sunflower genome sequence to provide roadmap for more resilient crops

Tue, 23 May 2017 08:19:22 EDT

Researchers have completed the first sunflower genome sequence. This new resource will assist future research programs using genetic tools to improve crop resilience and oil production.

Conflicting effects of climate, vector behavior on spread of plant disease

Tue, 16 May 2017 08:07:50 EDT

To better understand the effects of climate change on agroecosystems, researchers conducted one of the first transdisciplinary studies on the effects of temperature change, leafhopper vector behavior, and the spread of Pierce's disease on grapevines. The results show that, although a warming climate may exacerbate disease symptoms in infected grapevines, innate vector behavior may set an upper limit on the extent of Pierce's disease spread.

African lions under same threats as extinct sabre-toothed tigers faced

Wed, 10 May 2017 11:52:55 EDT

African lions are under the same threats extinct sabre-toothed tigers faced.

Fossil 'winged serpent' is a new species of ancient snake

Fri, 12 May 2017 13:44:23 EDT

An ancient sink hole in eastern Tennessee holds the clues to an important transitional time in the evolutionary history of snakes. Among the fossilized creatures found there, according to a new paper, is a new species of snake that lived 5 million years ago.

Estimating the size of animal populations from camera trap surveys

Wed, 10 May 2017 13:19:54 EDT

Camera traps are a useful means to observe the behaviour of animal populations in the wild at remote locations. Researchers recently extended distance sampling analytical methods to accommodate data from camera traps. This allows abundances of multiple species to be estimated from camera trapping data -- information critical to effective wildlife management and conservation.