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Stories by Nicholette Zeliadt

Wee ants protect African savanna trees from elephants

It's a David versus Goliath kind of story, with an ecological twist: In African savannas (regions with both trees and grass), acacia-dwelling ants can repel voracious, tree-eating elephants, according to new research by published online September 2 in Current Biology .

September 3, 2010 — Nicholette Zeliadt

Plucked hairs can keep track of circadian rhythms

Our sleep patterns, eating habits, body temperature and hormone levels are driven by the rhythmic activity of body's circadian clock. Travel across time zones or shift work can knock those rhythms out of whack,  possibly leading to sleep problems,  bipolar disorder, metabolic syndrome and even cancer.

August 23, 2010 — Nicholette Zeliadt

Hot and heavy: Insects sense the breath of approaching herbivores and flee plants

Plant-dwelling insects are in perpetual danger of being accidentally munched on by plant-eating animals. One such insect, the sap-sucking aphid (a common pest in gardens), has an effective escape plan, though: the bugs detect an approaching herbivore's breath and simply drop off the plant before it's eaten.Researchers at the University of Haifa at Oranim, Israel first noticed this phenomenon when they allowed a goat to feed on aphid-infested alfalfa plants—65 percent of the plant pests simultaneously dropped to the ground just before the vegetation was devoured.The team suspected that several cues might have motivated the mass dropping, including the sudden shadow cast by the goat, plant-shaking triggered by the munching marauder and/or the herbivore's exhalations.

August 9, 2010 — Nicholette Zeliadt

Talking trash during the dog days: A brief history of sanitation in New York City

Without modern sanitation, life would be nightmarish—human and animal waste would fester on the streets along with garbage and food scraps, producing a stench so foul that you'd want to keep your windows closed even in the sweltering heat of summer (for the moment, envision lacking the luxury of air conditioning).

July 29, 2010 — Nicholette Zeliadt

Bite me: New malaria-proof mosquito developed

An estimated one million people die each year from malaria, a parasitic infection transmitted by mosquitoes. Current control strategies involve blasting the bugs with insecticides, or using drugs to kill the parasite once it infects humans.

July 15, 2010 — Nicholette Zeliadt