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  • News

    A deadly frog-killing fungus probably originated in East Asia

    The biggest genetic study yet of a notorious frog-killing fungus says it probably originated in East Asia in the 20th century.

    The chytrid fungus nicknamed Bd, which attacks the skin, has astonished biologists in the last several decades by causing sudden, mass die-offs among frogs and other amphibians in Australia, Panama and other places worldwide. But where and when the killer emerged...

    05/10/2018 - 18:14 Animals, Conservation
  • News in Brief

    Here’s how to use DNA to find elusive sharks

    Pulling DNA out of bottles of seawater collected from reefs has revealed some of what biologists are calling the “dark diversity” of sharks.

    Physicists have their dark matter, known from indirect evidence since humans can’t see it. Dark diversity for biologists means species they don’t see in some reef, forest or other habitat, though predictions or older records say the creatures could...

    05/07/2018 - 07:00 Animals, Genetics, Conservation
  • 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