From the Community: Biodiversity in urban, isolated, marine and ancient settings
Millions of microbes found buried under the seafloor, fossils reveal the life of giant cockroaches and marine invertebrate struggles, a rare bird haven is explored in Colombia and urban ecologists address pollination in Harlem. Here’s the latest ecological news for the second week in April.
Promiscuous pollen: Using scanning electron microscope images, Jonathan Drori of the BBC explains the link between pollen promiscuity and allergies and applications for pollen, such as tracing counterfeit drugs and tracking down criminals (see above). Read more at “The Beauty, and Usefulness, of Pollen.”
Macro numbers of microbes: The International Census of Marine Microbes estimated in 2003 that microbiologists might find as many as 600,000 microbes during their collections. But after surveying more than 1,200 sites, they conservatively estimate that there must be at least 20 million kinds of microbes in the oceans. Read more at “It’s a microbial world” in Nature or “Mat of microbes the size of Greece discovered on seafloor” in Scientific American.
Ecosystems online: The Nature Conservancy has developed an atlas that maps the diversity of bird, animal and plant species populations across various ecoregions. Read more at “New Nature Conservancy atlas aims to show the state of the world’s ecosystems” or view the maps here.
Ancient entomology: In the journal Biology Letters, scientists develop a 3-D model of a 300-million-year-old cockroach ancestor that lived during the Carboniferous period (above). At about 3.5 inches long and 1.6 inches wide, the flying Archimylacris eggintoni was well adapted in the air, but it also had sticky structures on its legs called euplantulae that most likely allowed it to navigate several types of terrain and lay eggs at elevated levels. Read more at “Cockroach Ancestor Predates Dinosaurs.”
Animal-inspired adhesives: Researchers are drawing on the natural stickiness of marine species like the caddisfly and sandcastle worm to develop water-repellant adhesive that could potentially be used in medicine—such as for skin and bone repair. Read more at “Studying Sea Life for a Glue That Mends People.”
Also, math and science meet nature in the Garden of Cosmic Speculation, rare birds thriving in Colombian ecosystem, toilet paper wipes out 27,000 trees a day, scientists predict decades of volcanic activity in Iceland, pollinators in Harlem and fossil preserves marine invertebrate struggle.