Thursday, 15 August 2019

Fear of predators causes PTSD-like changes in brains of wild animals

AUGUST 7, 2019

Fear can be measured in the brain and fearful life-threatening events can leave quantifiable long-lasting traces in the neural circuitry of the brain with enduring effects on behaviour, as shown most clearly in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
A new study by Western University demonstrates that the fear predators inspire can leave long-lasting traces in the neural circuitry of wild animals and induce enduringly fearful behaviour, comparable to effects seen in PTSD research.
The findings of this study, led by Western University's Liana Zanette, Scott MacDougall-Shackleton and Michael Clinchy, were published today in Scientific Reports.
For the first time, Zanette, her students and collaborators experimentally demonstrated that the effects predator exposure has on the neural circuitry of fear in wild animals can persist beyond the period of the immediate 'fight or flight' response and instead can remain measurable more than a week later, in animals exposed in the interim to natural environmental and social conditions.

Blue sharks ride deep-swirling currents to the ocean's midwater at mealtime

AUGUST 7, 2019

When you're hungry, wouldn't it be nice to just slip into a tunnel that rushes you off to a grand buffet? It sounds like something Elon Musk might dream up, but it turns out, certain species of sharks appear to have this luxury.
Last year, researchers at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) and the Applied Physics Lab at the University of Washington (UW) discovered that when white sharks are ready to feast, they ride large, swirling ocean currents known as eddies to fast-track their way to the ocean twilight zone—a layer of the ocean between 200 and 1000 meters deep (656 to 3280 feet) containing the largest fish biomass on Earth. Now, according to a new study in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), scientists are seeing a similar activity with blue sharks, which dive through these natural, spinning tunnels at mealtime. The eddies draw warm water deep into the twilight zone where temperatures are normally considerably colder, allowing blue sharks to forage across areas of the open ocean that are often characterized by low prey abundance in surface waters.

Tiny snapping worms make one of the loudest noises in the ocean, study shows

AUGUST 8, 2019

by Justin Dupuis, University of Alberta
When marine biologist Richard Palmer saw a video of sea-dwelling worms snapping at each other and making one of the loudest sounds ever measured in aquatic animals, he couldn't believe his ears.
"The biomechanics allowing the animals to do this are both puzzling and extraordinary," said Palmer, a professor emeritus at the University of Alberta. "When I first saw their video and audio recordings, my eyes just popped out of my head because it was so unexpected."
The video had been sent to him by Ryutaro Goto, a Japanese scientist who asked him to help figure out how these invertebrates were capable of producing such loud sounds.
The worms were first discovered in the finger-like protuberances of glass sea sponges collected off the coast of Japan during a 2017 dredging expedition.
Isao Hirabayashi had been the first to hear the sound when a shipment of the newly discovered species was brought to the Kushimoto Marine Park, where he was the curator. Together with Goto, a marine biology professor from the University of Kyoto, they recorded the mysterious sounds and found they were made by the worms.

Researchers find neonicotinoids present a danger to pollinators

by Bob Yirka ,
A small team of environmentalists with Friends of the Earth, Toxicology Research International and Pesticide Research Institute has carried out a study of insecticide toxicity loading of chemical pesticides that are used on agricultural lands in the U.S. They have concluded that neonicotinoids present a major danger to pollinating insects and have posted their results on the open-access site PLOS ONE.
In the study (funded by Friends of the Earth), the group looked at the impact of the increased use of neonicotinoids on farming products in the U.S. They note that use of such insecticides has increased dramatically in the past 20 years.
Neonicotinoids are a class of insecticides that target the nervous systems of insects—they are both less expensive to make and less toxic to humans than other products, making them an appealing option for agriculture applications. The researchers note that they are far more toxic to insects, including those not targeted by agricultural practices than prior industrial insecticides. They also last a lot longer in the soil and are water-soluble, which means they travel from the soil to the water table when it rains.

Wednesday, 14 August 2019

New monkey species discovered in the Amazon's 'arc of deforestation'

AUGUST 8, 2019

by Nathan Williams, Fauna & Flora International
A new species of marmoset has been discovered in the southwest of Pará State in Brazil, a discovery that, while thrilling, already has conservationists worrying about its long-term prospects.
This is because the marmoset was discovered in an area of the Amazon known as the "arc of deforestation" that has suffered extensive illegal logging and agricultural expansion. Researchers say the threats in this area are intensifying, and infrastructure development, including roads and hydro-electric power plants, are also encroaching into the new marmoset's habitat.
Based on its discovery location, the researchers say the monkey is endemic to an area of approximately 55,000 square kilometres in the southwest of Pará State, Brazil.
The new species has been named Mico munduruku after the Munduruku Amerindians that inhabit the area.

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