Year in Review
2017 revealed some surprising biology of organisms large and small, from quick-dozing elephants to sex-changing lizards and carbon-dumping sea creatures.Switch it up
Toasty temperatures trump genetics when it comes to the sex of a bearded dragon lizard. Now researchers have found how RNA editing helps turn overheated male embryos into females (SN Online: 6/14/17).Homegrown...
DENVER — An invasive beetle has unexpected — and potentially troublesome — tastes in trees. Now two new studies are clarifying the insects’ dining habits, researchers reported at the annual Entomological Society of America meeting.
Metallic-green Asian beetles called emerald ash borers (Agrilus planipennis) have devastated wide swaths of forest in North America. For years, researchers...
News in Brief
DENVER — Honeybees may be the world’s most famous pollinator, but a new study shows that blueberry blooms reduce the insects to improvisational klutzes. Not useless ones though.
Pollination specialists have realized that the pollen haul found in hives of Apis mellifera honeybees has little, if any, from blueberry flowers, ecologist George Hoffman said November 5 at the Entomology 2017...
Reviews & Previews
The Aliens Among UsLeslie AnthonyYale Univ. Press, $30
Remote Bouvet Island, a tiny, glacier-smothered landmass in the South Atlantic rimmed by 500-meter-tall cliffs, has a notable distinction: It’s the only known spot on Earth, scientists say, that has zero invasive species. Every other place, and every person, on the planet is at least indirectly affected by one or more...
SEATTLE — Some mosses in the eastern Canadian Arctic, long entombed in ice, are now emerging into the sunlight. And the radiocarbon ages of those plants suggest that summertime temperatures in the region are the warmest they’ve been in tens of thousands of years.
As the planet warms and the ice retreats on Canada’s Baffin Island, the change is revealing plants long buried beneath the ice...
A bit of imperfection could be perfect for flowers creating a “blue halo” effect that bees can see.
At least a dozen families of flowering plants, from hibiscuses to daisy relatives, have a species or more that can create a bluish-ultraviolet tinge using arrays of nanoscale ridges on petals, an international research team reports online October 18 in Nature. These arrays could be the...
News in Brief
The tropics of Asia, Africa and South America all puffed out more carbon dioxide during the strong 2015–2016 El Niño than during the 2011 La Niña, new satellite data show. Because El Niño’s warmer, drier conditions in tropical regions mimic the effects of climate change expected by the end of the century, those observations may be a sobering harbinger of the tropics’ diminishing role as a...
José Dinneny, 39Plant stress biologistCarnegie Institution for Science10/04/2017 - 13:52 Plants, Genetics, Agriculture
José Dinneny wants us to see plants as stranger things.
“They’re able to integrate information and make coherent decisions without a nervous system, without a brain,” he points out. Plus, plants find water without sight or touch. For too many of us, however, lawns, salads and pots on a sunny windowsill make...
Bee bodies may be built just right to help pollen hitch a ride between flowers.
For the first time, scientists have identified where and how much pollen is left behind on bees’ bodies after the insects groom themselves. These residual patches of pollen align with spots on bees’ bodies that touch flowers’ pollen-collecting reproductive parts, researchers report online September 6 in PLOS...
Earthworms are great for soil, right? Well, not always. In places where there have been no earthworms for thousands of years, foreign worms can wreak havoc on soils. And that can cause a cascade of problems throughout an area’s food web. Now comes evidence that invader worms in the Upper Great Lakes may be stressing the region’s sugar maples.
There are native earthworms in North America...