Scientists go out on a limb to study tree-climbing land snails
Land snails are generally believed to be ground-dwelling creatures, preferring dark and humid places, like the forest floor, or a suburban garden. So why do we find some species of snails in the tops of trees, where it is relatively light and dry? Associate Professor Ikuyo Saeki from the University of Tsukuba, Japan and her colleagues from Hokkaido University and other institutions, have performed some fascinating research to find out why. Prof. Saeki wanted to know what drives animals to leave the ground, defying gravity to live in the tree tops. Is it because there are fewer predators, or less competition with other animals? Is there more, or better, food? Some studies suggest that tree-dwelling species live longer than ground dwellers, but this idea, along with the others, is not easy to test in a natural environment. That’s when Prof. Saeki and her colleagues decided to enlist the help of a Japanese tree-climbing land snail.
Corals Die as Global Warming Collides with Local Weather in the South China Sea
Bleached Acropora colony photographed in July 2015. A new study finds that a 2°C rise in the sea surface temperature of the South China Sea in June 2015 was amplified to produce a 6°C rise on the Dongsha Atoll, killing approximately 40 percent of the resident coral community. (Photo by Thomas DeCarlo, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)
In the South China Sea, a 2°C rise in the sea surface temperature in June 2015 was amplified to produce a 6°C rise on Dongsha Atoll, a shallow coral reef ecosystem, killing approximately 40 percent of the resident coral community according to a study published in Scientific Reports this week. Wind and waves churn the sea, flushing shallow-water coral reefs with seawater from the open ocean to help them stay cool. But according to new research from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), when the weather turns still and these natural cooling mechanisms subside, just a few degrees of ocean warming can prove lethal to the corals that live there.
‘Forest mobilisation:’ unlocking Europe’s wood energy potential
Increasing the woody biomass supply sustainably, continuously and at acceptable prices is a huge challenge . It’s not always easy to see the wood from trees when dealing with complex challenges in energy policy. However, Europe is increasingly finding in its forests a significant source of renewable energy that could help the region move away from fossil fuel dependency. Known collectively as woody biomass, these by-products of forest management are also useful raw materials to be crafted into wood products, turned into energy or converted into mulch and erosion control materials.
A new approach to amplifying DNA; A small paradigm shift within molecular photocopying
During replication, the two strands are separated. Each strand of the original DNA molecule then serves as a template for the production of its complementary counterpart (Figure: Wikimedia Commons).
Analyzing DNA is useful for a number of vital applications. This includes diagnosis and monitoring of diseases, identification of criminals, and studying the function of a targeted segment of DNA. However, methods used for analyses often require more DNA than may be available in a typical sample. ‘Therefore, amplification is necessary, but not always straightforward. The most widely used amplification or photocopying method is the polymerase chain reaction (PCR). A new PCR method could help the amplification process, and thus develop robust assays that previously would not have been possible. Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) is a molecule found in the nucleus of cells and carries the 'instructions' for the development and functioning of living organisms. It is often compared to a set of blueprints since it contains the instructions needed to build cells. These instructions are divided into segments along a strand of DNA.