Aug 5, 2009 | 2
ALBUQUERQUE—Cellulosic biofuels extracted from native switchgrass could lend a helping hand to imperiled birds that depend on vanishing prairies in the Midwest.
With palm oil plantations overrunning Indonesian rainforests and corn-based ethanol in the U.S. spurring new deforestation abroad, it may seem like biofuels and biodiversity don't mix. That's why ecologist Bruce Robertson at Michigan State University's W. K. Kellogg Biological Station and his colleagues wanted to know how birds and bugs would fare if the U.S. switches from corn-based ethanol production to cellulosic biofuels based on grasses. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is pushing these biofuels to help achieve further reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. Switchgrass has been singled out for biofuel production because of its low water requirements and high nutrient efficiency, along with the fact that it is native to the U.S.
Jan 7, 2009 | 4
Dead and dying California brown pelicans are littering the state’s coastline and nearby inland areas, and wildlife experts aren’t sure why.
An unusual number of ill or dead adult birds have been reported from southern Oregon to Baja California. While it’s common for up to 80 percent of young California brown pelicans to die each year from starvation, adults aren’t typically affected, according to the International Bird Rescue Research Center in Fairfield, Calif.
Rescuers have brought more than 75 ailing birds to the center over the past 10 days, and it's received hundreds of calls about pelicans that are either dead or are sick and confused, according to executive director Jay Holcomb. The birds are exhausted, and their pouches and feet are discolored, the Los Angeles Times notes. They're also disoriented, Holcomb says, with many landing inland on highways, roads and runways instead of sticking to the coastline as they typically do.
Nov 25, 2008
You might be wondering what science has to do with Thanksgiving. Its only complexity should involve family feuds and kitchen disasters, right? Have we got news for you: there are myths to be shattered about this most American of holidays, including the alleged soporific effects of turkey and the assumption that gratitude has nothing to do with good health.
Our in-depth report on the science of Thanksgiving tackles those and other questions you may be mulling as you prep Tom in your oven. Don’t you want to know what makes the meat on your plate white or dark? The reason is all in the family – the family of turkey genetics, that is. And can you eat turkey without becoming drowsy? We’ve got the answer.
Oct 10, 2008
An Atlantic blacktip shark spontaneously reproduced without the company of a mate, scientists report in the second documented case of the phenomenon.
Five-foot-long (1.5-meter) Tidbit, the ironically named resident of the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center in Virginia Beach, Va., spawned on her own — no male assistance involved, according to Reuters. Sadly, Tidbit died in May 2007 during a veterinary checkup, before birthing her until-then unknown 10-inch-long shark pup. The case is published in the new issue of the Journal of Fish Biology.
Scientists last year wrote about an asexual hammerhead shark that reproduced on its own, a process called parthenogenesis in which unfertilized eggs divide. Bony fish, reptiles, birds, lizards and Komodo dragons also can reproduce asexually.
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