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  • News

    How bees defend against some controversial insecticides

    Honeybees and bumblebees have a way to resist toxic compounds in some widely used insecticides.

    These bees make enzymes that help the insects break down a type of neonicotinoid called thiacloprid, scientists report March 22 in Current Biology. Neonicotinoids have been linked to negative effects on bee health, such as difficulty reproducing in honeybees (SN: 7/26/16, p 16). But bees...

    03/22/2018 - 14:41 Toxicology, Chemistry, Conservation
  • Feature

    How oral vaccines could save Ethiopian wolves from extinction

    Deep in the Bale Mountains of Ethiopia, wildlife workers trek up above 9,800 feet to save some of the world’s most rare carnivores, Ethiopian wolves.

    “It’s cold, tough work,” says Eric Bedin, who leads the field monitoring team in its uphill battle.

    In this sparse, sometimes snowy landscape, the lanky and ginger-colored wolves (Canis simensis) reign as the region’s apex predators....

    03/22/2018 - 09:00 Animals, Biomedicine, Conservation
  • News in Brief

    In Borneo, hunting emerges as a key threat to endangered orangutans

    Orangutan numbers on the Southeast Asian island of Borneo plummeted from 1999 to 2015, more as a result of human hunting than habitat loss, an international research team finds.

    Over those 16 years, Borneo’s orangutan population declined by about 148,500 individuals. A majority of those losses occurred in the intact or selectively logged forests where most orangutans live, primatologist...

    02/15/2018 - 12:00 Anthropology, Animals, Conservation
  • Science Ticker

    Shipping noise can disturb porpoises and disrupt their mealtime

    Harbor porpoises are frequently exposed to sounds from shipping vessels that register at around 100 decibels, about as loud as a lawnmower, scientists report February 14 in Proceedings of the Royal Society B. Sounds this loud can cause porpoises to stop echolocation, which they use to catch food.

    While high-frequency submarine sonar has been found to harm whales (SN: 4/23/11, p. 16), low...

    02/13/2018 - 19:05 Conservation, Animals, Pollution
  • The Science Life

    Here’s why so many saiga antelope mysteriously died in 2015

    Spring calving season for the saiga antelope of central Kazakhstan is a delight for the researchers who keep tabs on the critically endangered animals. During the day, thousands of newborn saigas lie quiet, hidden within a sea of waving grass. Mothers return twice daily to feed them. “If you come at dawn and dusk, it’s magical,” says E.J. Milner-Gulland, a conservation biologist at the...

    01/29/2018 - 07:00 Animals, Conservation, Microbes
  • News

    Light pollution can prolong the risk of sparrows passing along West Nile virus

    SAN FRANCISCO — Even moderate light pollution can roughly double the time a house sparrow remains a risk for passing along the worrisome West Nile virus.

    House sparrows, about as widespread across the United States as artificial lighting itself, make a useful test species for a first-of-its-kind study of how night illumination might contribute to disease spread, said Meredith Kernbach,...

    01/19/2018 - 09:00 Physiology, Animals, Conservation
  • Science Visualized

    Fluorescence could help diagnose sick corals

    Sickness makes some corals lose their glow.

    Disease reduces a coral’s overall fluorescence even before any sign of the infection is visible to the naked eye, a new study finds. An imaging technique that illuminates the change could help with efforts to better monitor coral health, researchers report November 6 in Scientific Reports.

    Many corals naturally produce fluorescent...

    11/17/2017 - 07:00 Animals, Technology, Conservation
  • News

    Current CRISPR gene drives are too strong for outdoor use, studies warn

    Gene-editing tools heralded as hope for fighting invader rats, malarial mosquitoes and other scourges may be too powerful to use in their current form, two new papers warn.

    Standard forms of CRISPR gene drives, as the tools are called, can make tweaked DNA race through a population so easily that a small number of stray animals or plants could spread it to new territory, predicts a...

    11/16/2017 - 15:00 Genetics, Conservation
  • Introducing

    The Lord Howe stick insect is officially back from the dead

    It’s a rare triumph when a species comes back from the dead. A new genetic analysis has officially established what many entomologists and conservation biologists hoped was true: The Lord Howe stick insect (Dryococelus australis) lives.

    Nicknamed “tree lobsters,” the dark-brown crawlers are nocturnal, flightless creatures that can grow up to 15 centimeters long. They feed on tea trees,...

    11/13/2017 - 12:30 Animals, Conservation, Evolution
  • Essay

    Defining ‘species’ is a fuzzy art

    The funniest thing I’ve ever said to any botanist was, “What is a species?” Well, it certainly got the most spontaneous laugh. I don’t think Barbara Ertter, who doesn’t remember the long-ago moment, was being mean. Her laugh was more of a “where do I even start” response to an almost impossible question.

    At first glance, “species” is a basic vocabulary word schoolchildren can ace on a...

    11/01/2017 - 09:00 Evolution, Conservation