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  1. What do chocolate, migratory birds, flood control and pandas have in common? Many countries benefit from ecosystem services provided outside their nations. This can happen through economic relationships, biological and geographical conditions, but we hardly know how and where these ecosystem service flows occur. Scientists at the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ) and the German Centre for integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) show in a recent study, published in the journal Global Environmental Change, how interregional ecosystem service flows can be identified and quantified. View the full article
  2. Ornithologists and physicists from St Petersburg University have conducted an interdisciplinary study together with colleagues from Sechenov Institute of Evolutionary Physiology and Biochemistry of the Russian Academy of Sciences and the Biological Station Rybachy of the Zoological Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences. They have created a micro device, weighing less than a gram, which enables them to disrupt locally the avian magnetic compass. The scientists have discovered that magnetoreception in birds is unlikely to be associated with the light-sensitive protein cryptochrome in the retinas of their eyes, though photochemical reactions in cryptochrome have been so far considered to be the primary biophysical mechanism behind the magnetic sense of birds. View the full article
  3. While they can't pick out precise numbers, animals can comprehend that more is, well, more. From birds to bees and wolves to frogs, animals use numbers to hunt, find a mate, return to their home, and more—and researchers believe that this ability to process and represent numbers, known as numerical competence, plays an important role in how animals make these decisions and influences an animal's chance of survival. In a Review publishing March 30 in the journal Trends in Ecology and Evolution, Andreas Nieder, a neurobiologist at the University of Tuebingen, Germany, explores the current literature on how different animal species comprehend numbers and the impact on their survival, arguing that we won't fully understand the influence of numerical competence unless we study it directly. View the full article
  4. According to a new study, zebra finches exposed to low levels of environmental PCBs as nestlings show changes in breeding behavior as adults. The study published in the journal PLoS ONE was conducted by scientists at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Though polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, were banned in 1979, they still contaminate the environment because of improper disposal. View the full article
  5. A new feathered dinosaur that lived in New Mexico 67 million years ago is one of the last known surviving raptor species, according to a new publication in the journal Scientific Reports. View the full article
  6. A new study in Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution suggests that birds have two alternative strategies for coping with the difficulties of humanity's increasingly chaotic cities—either by having large brains or through more frequent breeding. View the full article
  7. The cytoskeleton is a permanent construction site consisting of protein filaments that are continually lengthening and shortening in a dynamic process. Through these remodeling processes, the cell can change its shape and even move to a new location. In this way, it guides fundamental processes, such as cell division and differentiation, and processes at a higher level in the organism, such as embryonic development and wound healing. If something goes wrong at the cytoskeletal construction site—e.g., if protein filaments undergo remodeling at the wrong place or time—it could lead to diseases. Such an error in spatio-temporal control is also the reason why metastatic cancer cells migrate in the body. View the full article
  8. Despite considerable effort, and some wonderful success stories, it is widely acknowledged that global conservation targets to reverse declines in biodiversity and halt species extinctions by 2020 will not be met. View the full article
  9. Researchers of the University of Groningen and the Max Planck Institute have found that starlings sleep five hours less per night during the summer. Compared to winter, the birds take more mid-day naps and live under higher sleep pressure. During full-moon nights, starlings sleep around two hours less than usual. The findings of the study were published in the journal Current Biology on 19 March. View the full article
  10. Plovers winter and migrate utilizing rice paddy fields along their annual route. Little ringed plovers breeding in Nagano, Japan were tracked along their 6000 to 8000 km round trip journey to gather previously unknown data regarding their course and preferred fueling sites. View the full article
  11. Elizabeth Scordato, an assistant professor of biological sciences, is the lead author of a study that found the evolution of barn swallows in Asia is shaped by the Tibetan Plateau. View the full article
  12. A bird study led by the Australian National University (ANU) provides new understanding of the ways birds and mammals respond to a rapidly warming world. View the full article
  13. Experts have stressed an urgent need to find alternatives to wormers and anti-ectoparasitic products used widely on cattle, following the findings of a study just published in Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry. View the full article
  14. A new paper including research from a Utah State University scientist provides a framework for understanding how light and noise pollution affects wildlife. The framework is the product of an effort among worldwide experts in ecology and physiology and reveals the presence of "sensory danger zones," or areas where sensory pollutants influences animal activity. The study is published in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution. The paper is a collaborative work with principal investigator Neil Carter, assistant professor at the School for Environment and Sustainability. "From a conservation biology point of view, we don't know how to mitigate the effects of sensory pollution if we don't know what the pathway of harm is," said Carter. View the full article
  15. Research conducted in recent decades has shown how the destruction of forests brings about a decline in species diversity. A research group in Brazil led by scientists at São Paulo State University (UNESP) has now reported the findings of an investigation into how landscape changes caused by deforestation, habitat loss and fragmentation lead directly to the loss not only of species, but also of their ecological interactions. The report is published in Biotropica and features on the journal's cover. The study was supported by São Paulo Research Foundation—FAPESP. View the full article
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