Like farmers across the nation bringing in their crops this season, researchers in Wisconsin are carefully taking stock of a very special harvest ? one grown aboard the International Space Station.
Although it is expected that populations of many organisms will move away from the equator and toward the poles to stay cool during global warming, researchers have found that the intertidal zone does not exactly fit this pattern. A study published in this week’s Science Magazine indicates that there may be “hot spots” at northern shoreline sites within the next three to five years. This is partly due to the timing of the tides.
Paper wasps all look the same, right? An animal behaviorist at Cornell University reports that the wasp’s black-and-yellow uniform is not uniform at all. One wasp, she has discovered, can recognize another through facial and abdominal markings, all but displacing the scientific dogma that insects carry out identification and communication only by employing chemicals called pheromones. “Their faces are far more beautiful and different than you’d expect,” says Elizabeth Tibbetts.
The health of indigenous people in the Western Hemisphere was on a downward trajectory long before Columbus set foot in the Americas, Ohio researchers say. The rise of agriculture is partly to blame as the demands of tending domestic crops encouraged people to settle in larger communities, where disease was more easily spread. The current research suggests that the overall health of the average person declined with the development of agriculture, government and urbanization.
Models of Larch budmoth outbreaks in the European Alps may eventually show scientists how to model a variety of disease and insect eruptions that rely on a combination of enemy, host and spatial movement to decimate populations, according to a team of ecologists. The Larch budmoth feeds on larch trees, a common evergreen variety, consuming the needles and defoliating the branches. In the European Alps, the infestation moves as predictable waves from west to east completely defoliating forests beginning in the French and Italian Alps and moving across the continent through Switzerland and into Austria.
Researchers in Oklahoma have deciphered the complete genome sequence of Streptococcus mutans, the main organism implicated in causing tooth decay. The work, supported by the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, has been made freely available online. Said one of the team members involved in the four-year effort: “Building on this basic research may one day lead us to new approaches for preventing and treating tooth decay.” Added another: “By targeting the adherence genes, for example, we might be able to develop a way of preventing S. mutans from sticking to teeth.”