Hawksbill Sea Turtle (Eritmochelys imbricata) - ENDANGERED
“Carey de Concha”
The endangered hawksbill sea turtle is one of seven species of sea turtles found throughout the world. One of the smaller sea turtles, it has overlapping scutes (plates) that are thicker than those of other sea turtles. This protects them from being battered against sharp coral and rocks during storm events.
Adults range in size from 30 to 36 inches (0.8-1.0 meters) carapace length, and weigh 100 to 200 pounds (45-90 kilograms). Its carapace (upper shell) is an attractive dark brown with faint yellow streaks and blotches and a yellow plastron (under shell). The name “hawksbill” refers to the turtle’s prominent hooked beak.
(via: Science 360) (photo: Caroline S. Rogers, NOAA)
What Can Animals’ Survival Instincts Tell Us About Human Emotions?
NYU press release
Can animals’ survival instincts shed additional light on what we know about human emotion? New York University neuroscientist Joseph LeDoux poses this question in outlining a pioneering theory, drawn from two decades of research, that could lead to a more comprehensive understanding of emotions in both humans and animals.
In his essay, which appears in the journal Neuron, LeDoux proposes shifting scientific focus “from questions about whether emotions that humans consciously feel are also present in other animals and towards questions about the extent to which circuits and corresponding functions that are present in other animals are also present in humans.”
The neurological common ground between humans and animals includes brain functions used for survival. It is here, LeDoux contends, that researchers may gain new insights into both humans’ and animals’ emotions.
“Survival circuit functions are not causally related to emotional feelings, but obviously contribute to these, at least indirectly,” he writes. “The survival circuit concept integrates ideas about emotion, motivation, reinforcement, and arousal in the effort to understand how organisms survive and thrive by detecting and responding to challenges and opportunities in daily life. Included are circuits responsible for defense, energy and nutrition management, fluid balance, thermoregulation, and procreation, among others.”…
(read more: NYU.edu) (image: Mila Zinkova)
Cloud Forest Trees Drink From the Fog
by Sean Treacy
If Costa Rican trees could speak, perhaps they’d ask for a cool glass of fog. A number of plant species in the country’s tropical cloud forests quench their thirst by slurping up fog droplets through their leaves, a new study shows. The forests are already in danger from the changing climate, and the finding raises concerns that they’re even more fragile than thought.
For 9 months of the year, the lush, mountainside cloud forest of Monteverde in Costa Rica gets plenty of rain to support its roughly 2000 plant species. During the other 3 months, February through April, precipitation is scarce. But even during this dry spell, some of the region’s forests average 13 hours of fog each day from moisture that drifts in from the Caribbean Sea and condenses under the forest’s canopy, forming milky-white threads that weave through the greenery.
Monteverde’s cloud forest is also home to a wealth of amphibians and migratory birds. But in 1989, conservationists were alarmed when a renowned bright-orange amphibian called the golden toad went extinct. Whether the animal died out because of climate change has been a source of debate. But its demise served as a bad omen because a cascade of other amphibians, which are especially sensitive to moisture changes and diseases spread by climate change, disappeared from Monteverde in the following years.
Researchers interested in conserving the cloud forest species have studied the region’s animals intensely, but they know much less about the ecosystem’s habitat-providing plants, says Greg Goldsmith, a plant ecologist at the University of California, Berkeley. Because climate change has also been projected to influence where the fog forms, Goldsmith and his colleagues hunted for clues to how the dry season fog influenced the trees by looking for a rarely studied talent among plants called foliar uptake—the ability to absorb water through leaves in addition to the roots…
(read more: Science NOW) (photos: Drew Fulton, Canopy in the Clouds)
Many, like myself, want to explore our natural world. The famous Mount Everest is known by all, so what if you could really explore the scenery in great detail without leaving your computer? Luckily for us all, David Breashears has captured a massive and extremely detailed interactive photo of Everest and the Khumbu glacier for our viewing enjoyment.
Not only can you study beautiful geological formations like strata and ductile deformation, but you can also even see climbers as they travel one of the most dangerous places on Earth.
The click through link and source will send you right to the interactive photo, where you can zoom in, look for climbers, study the landscape, and just admire the beauty of this photograph. Hundreds of photos were stitched together to create the image. Here is their description on the website:
“This gigapixel image of the Khumbu glacier was captured by David Breashears during the spring of 2012, from the Pumori viewpoint near Mount Everest. The Khumbu Icefall is clearly visible here, and one can easily see the hustle and bustle of Everest Base Camp below.”
www.glacierworks.org is a stunning website with much more to offer. There are other interactive photos from different locations, and their mission statement is to study the growing changes in the Himalayas.
As I explore their website, I found they even have a Tumblr! You can follow updates right from your dashboard, but I suggest to really explore the website, as it is full of amazing imagery (even 360°!) that takes a lot of skill to capture.
A male Pronghorn (Antilocapra americana) roams the open range in eastern Nevada, USA. Pronghorns are not closely related to any existing groups of ungulates, and even though they often called Pronghorn Antelopes, they are not true antelopes. They belong to an ancient family that once contained multiple species and ranged across prehistoric North America. This species is the only one still in existence amongst the family Antilocapridae.
(photo: Tatiana Gettelman)
Repeat Photography of Retreating Alaskan Glaciers
Repeat photography is a technique in which a historical photograph and a modern photograph, both having the same field of view, are compared and contrasted to quantitatively and qualitatively determine their similarities and differences. The following sections depict how this technique was used at a number of locations in Alaska, including Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve, Kenai Fjords National Park, and the northwestern Prince William Sound area of the Chugach National Forest, to document and understand changes to glaciers and landscapes as a result of changing climate. Through analysis and interpretation of these photographic pairs, information is extracted to document Alaskan landscape evolution and glacier dynamics for the last century-and-a-quarter on local and regional scales and the response of the Alaskan landscape to retreating glacier ice…
(read and see more: US Geological Survey)
(photos: Muir Glacier and Inlet)
Coral Reefs Could Be Decimated by 2100
by Eli Kintisch
Nearly every coral reef could be dying by 2100 if current carbon dioxide emission trends continue, according to a new review of major climate models from around the world. The only way to maintain the current chemical environment in which reefs now live, the study suggests, would be to deeply cut emissions as soon as possible. It may even become necessary to actively remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, say with massive tree-planting efforts or machines.
The world’s open-ocean reefs are already under attack by the combined stresses of acidifying and warming water, overfishing, and coastal pollution. Carbon emissions have already lowered the pH of the ocean a full 0.1 unit, which has harmed reefs and hindered bivalves’ ability to grow. The historical record of previous mass extinctions suggests that acidified seas were accompanied by widespread die-offs but not total extinction.
To study how the world’s slowly souring seas would affect reefs in the future, scientists with the Carnegie Institution for Science in Palo Alto, California, analyzed the results of computer simulations performed by 13 teams around the world. The models include simulations of how ocean chemistry would interact with an atmosphere with higher carbon dioxide levels in the future. This so-called “active biogeochemistry” is a new feature that is mostly absent in the previous generation of global climate models…
(read more: Science NOW) (photo: Louis Wray)