From the Community: space bacteria, chimeras and sea turtles
Citizen scientist notices thousands of birds trapped in the lights of this year’s 9/11 memorial in New York City, endangered turtles get a second chance in Florida, flu viruses last longer in cool, dry environments, a blogger sets up a serendipitous research collaboration and the Potomac River shows signs of improvement due to aquatic conservation efforts. Here is research in ecology from mid-September.
NYC bird confusion: John Rowden, citizen science director at the Audubon Society’s New York City chapter, determined what exactly was floating in the Tribute Light at Ground Zero in New York City on September 11, 2010: confused birds (see above video). According to Rowden, and as reported in Wired Science, “… 10,000 birds entered the beams, becoming confused and circling until the Municipal Art Society, working with New York City Audubon, shut the lights for 20 minutes, allowing the birds to leave. That happened five times over the course of the night.” Read more at “9/11 Memorial Lights Trap Thousands of Birds.”
Turtle rescue: Wildlife officials have deemed the mass relocation of endangered Kemp’s ridley sea turtle eggs from the oil-slicked Gulf of Mexico to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center—and the eventual release of the turtles into the Atlantic Ocean near Cape Canaveral, Florida—to be a success. “A total of 278 sea turtle nests were trucked to the space center from the Gulf Coast from the end of June until mid-August,” reported Marcia Dunn of the Associated Press. “They expected to move about 700 nests, but the shipments ended after the Gulf of Mexico was deemed safe for the sea turtle hatchlings.” Read more at “Turtle egg rescue at space center billed success.”
Some like it cold: In a pair of studies published early this month, scientists have found that flu viruses live longer in dry, cooler conditions compared with a warm, humid environment. In one of the studies, published in Environmental Science & Technology, examined the length of time avian influenza remained infectious on various surfaces at room temperature versus the temperature of a refrigerator. The virus lasted about one day in the warm setting, but “the virus remained infectious through day four on feces, and through the end of the study — 13 days — on glass, metal and soil” when kept in a cooler, dryer environment. Read more at “Dry air might boost flu transmission.”
Serendipitous chimeras: Science blogger Ed Yong from Not Exactly Rocket Science described his role in sparking a research collaboration on chimeric chickens spurred from one of his posts. Yong lists the email exchanges between a biologist and a farmer that eventually developed into a research opportunity. “I love this,” wrote Yong. “Science can spring from the most serendipitous of circumstances and I’m proud to have played a trivial role as a conduit in this instance. Indeed, this story is laced with serendipity, right from its beginning.” Read more at “In which I set up a collaboration between a biologist, a farmer and a chimeric chicken.”
Space colonists: “Microbes currently are used in mining to help recover metals such as gold, copper and uranium. Now researchers suggest bacteria could be enlisted for “bio-mining” in space, to extract oxygen, nutrients and minerals from extraterrestrial bodies such as the moon and Mars for use by future colonists there,” wrote Charles Choi in a recent Scientific American article. Researchers tested cyanobacteria on loose surface rock from Mars and the Moon and found that the bacteria Anabaena cylindrical could grow rapidly and extract calcium, iron, potassium, magnesium, nickel, sodium, zinc and copper from the rocks. Read more at “Space Colonists Could Use Bacteria to Mine Minerals on Mars and the Moon.”
Also, the archer fish’s mammal-like vision, how far science has come in 30 years, genetically altering photosynthesis, massive fish kill in Louisiana, Southern Fried Science ended its week-long Ocean of Pseudoscience segment and the Potomac River shows improvement.