Galapagos sea lions threatened by human exposure

A recent study conducted by the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) on endangered Galapagos sea lions (Zalophus wollebaeki) has revealed that the animals are more susceptible to starvation as a result of their exposure to humans. Over a span of more than 18 months, conservationists tagged and monitored the behavior and physiology of two groups of 60 Galapagos sea lions, one in San Cristobal, which is inhabited by humans, and one in Santa Fe, where there are no humans, dogs, cats, mice, or rats.

Antarctica Ice Sheet less stable than previously thought

Earth continues to hit temperature and greenhouse gas milestones—just a couple of months ago, multiple stations measured carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere of 400 parts per million, the highest in several million years. Many studies have tried to estimate how much and how rapidly the two great ice sheets covering Greenland and Antarctica might melt—and the one reassuring point has been the apparent relative stability of the eastern (and, by far, larger) half of the Antarctic Ice Sheet. Now, a new study of past melting in East Antarctica suggests that over the long haul, the "stable" ice sheet may be more vulnerable to warming than thought. To study possible future melting of the ice sheets, many scientists look to the past. Current warm temperatures and high greenhouse gas conditions are reminiscent of the warm Pliocene Epoch that lasted from 5.3 million to 2.6 million years ago. "Early and middle Pliocene global temperatures and greenhouse gas concentrations are probably the closest analog in Earth's history to the present climate on this planet and the climate conditions we will encounter before the end of this century," says Claus-Dieter Hillenbrand, a sedimentologist at the British Antarctic Survey in Cambridge, U.K., who was not involved in the study.

What has Curiosity Rover taught us about the Martian atmosphere?

NASA's Curiosity Rover has been exploring Mars for almost a year now. It has been acquiring detailed data on the current atmosphere. A pair of new papers report measurements of the Martian atmosphere's composition by NASA's Curiosity rover, providing evidence about loss of much of Mars' original atmosphere. Curiosity's Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) suite of laboratory instruments inside the rover has measured the abundances of different gases and different isotopes in several samples of Martian atmosphere. Isotopes are variants of the same chemical element with different atomic weights due to having different numbers of neutrons, such as the most common carbon isotope, carbon-12, and a heavier stable isotope, carbon-13.

Native UK bees at risk from imported bumblebees

Bumblebees imported from Europe infected with parasites pose a serious threat to the UK’s wild and honey bee populations, according to a new study. Each year, more than a million bumblebee colonies are imported by countries across the globe to pollinate a variety of crops, with the UK alone importing between 40,000 and 50,000. Although the colonies are said by the global suppliers to be disease free, a recent study in the Journal of Applied Ecology has found that more than three-quarters of those imported into the UK each year are riddled with parasites.

Oceanic Iron content more variable than thought

The supply of dissolved iron to oceans around continental shelves has been found to be more variable by region than previously believed – with implications for future climate prediction. Iron is key to the removal of carbon dioxide from the Earth's atmosphere as it promotes the growth of microscopic marine plants (phytoplankton), which mop up the greenhouse gas and lock it away in the ocean. A new study, led by researchers based at the National Oceanography Centre Southampton, has found that the amount of dissolved iron released into the ocean from continental margins displays variability not currently captured by ocean-climate prediction models. This could alter predictions of future climate change because iron, a key micronutrient, plays an important role in the global carbon cycle.

The Many Benefits of Crop Rotation

Crop rotation is a common farming practice where different series of crops are planted in the same area each sequential season. Planting different crops on the same piece of land has been used since Roman times and has been proven to improve plant nutrition, benefit soil health, and control the spread of disease. A new study to be published in Nature's 'The ISME Journal' reveals just how profound crop rotation's effect is on enriching soil with bacteria, fungi and protozoa.

Scientists build app to automatically identify species based on their calls

New technology makes it possible to automatically identify species by their vocalizations. The software and hardware system, detailed in the current issue of the journal PeerJ, has been used at sites in Puerto Rico and Costa Rica to identify frogs, insects, birds, and monkeys. Many of the animals identified by the system are typically difficult to spot in their natural environment, but audio recordings of their calls reveal not only their presence but also their activity patterns. The platform, which is called the Automated Remote Biodiversity Monitoring Network (ARBIMON), could potentially allow scientists to monitor species in remote sites without having a physical presence on the ground, according to the study's lead author Mitchell Aide of the University of Puerto Rico.

Renewable Energy Sources On the Rise

Each year the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) releases energy flow charts in an effort to track the United States' consumption of energy resources. So what seems to be the trend from the past couple of years? Well, renewable energy is on the upswing. Compared to 2011, Americans used more natural gas, solar panels and wind turbines and less coal to generate electricity in 2012, according to the LLNL charts.

80% of Rainforests in Malaysian Borneo Logged

0 percent of the rainforests in Malaysian Borneo have been heavily impacted by logging, finds a comprehensive study that offers the first assessment of the spread of industrial logging and logging roads across areas that were considered some of Earth's wildest lands less than 30 years ago. The research, conducted by a team of scientists from the University of Tasmania, University of Papua New Guinea, and the Carnegie Institution for Science, is based on analysis of satellite data using Carnegie Landsat Analysis System-lite (CLASlite), a freely available platform for measuring deforestation and forest degradation. It estimated the state of the region's forests as of 2009.

Love Longhorn Cattle? How about a longhorn dinosaur?

Rodeo riders love longhorn cattle. What would they think about a longhorn dinosaur? A remarkable new species of horned dinosaur has been unearthed in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, southern Utah. The huge plant-eater inhabited Laramidia, a landmass formed when a shallow sea flooded the central region of North America, isolating western and eastern portions for millions of years during the Late Cretaceous Period. The newly discovered dinosaur, belonging to the same family as the famous Triceratops, was announced today in the British scientific journal, Proceedings of the Royal Society B. The study, funded in large part by the Bureau of Land Management and the National Science Foundation, was led by Scott Sampson, when he was the Chief Curator at the Natural History Museum of Utah at the University of Utah. Sampson is now the Vice President of Research and Collections at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science. Additional authors include Eric Lund (Ohio University; previously a University of Utah graduate student), Mark Loewen (Natural History Museum of Utah and Dept. of Geology and Geophysics, University of Utah), Andrew Farke (Raymond Alf Museum), and Katherine Clayton (Natural History Museum of Utah).