Freshwater Wildlife Continues To Decline But New Energy Trendlines Suggest We Can Bend That Curve

Last month I wrote about the 86% decline in populations of migratory fish since 1970. Turns out that was just a trailer for the feature film.

In September, WWF released its Living Planet Report, which includes the grim statistic that essentially all vertebrate species that depend on freshwater ecosystems are following the same precipitous plunge as migratory fish.

How the world developed its energy systems, particularly hydropower dams that fragmented rivers, is one of the primary reasons for this dramatically dropping trendline. 

How the world designs, builds and operates its future energy systems will be key to halting, and ultimately reversing that trendline.

The current decline in freshwater populations is tracked by the “Living Planet Index” (LPI), which provides insights into the health of global wildlife, much like an index fund provides insights into the health of financial markets. And just as an index fund reflects the prices

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Finding a better route to treating social anxiety disorder may lie in another part of the brain, researchers suggest — ScienceDaily

Studies have long suggested that oxytocin — a hormone that can also act as a neurotransmitter — regulates prosocial behavior such as empathy, trust and bonding, which led to its popular labeling as the “love hormone.” Mysteriously, oxytocin has also been shown to play a role in antisocial behaviors and emotions, including reduced cooperation, envy and anxiety. How oxytocin could exert such opposite roles had largely remained a mystery, but a new UC Davis study sheds light on how this may work.

Working with California mice, UC Davis researches showed that the “love hormone” oxytocin can sometimes have antisocial effects depending on where in the brain it is made. (Mark Chappell/UC Riverside)

While most oxytocin is produced in an area of the brain known as the hypothalamus, some oxytocin is produced in another brain area known as the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis, or BNST. The BNST is known

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Results suggest retrieval of cellular powerplants via an energy feedback loop sustains communication — ScienceDaily

Our thoughts, feelings, and movements are controlled by billions of neurons talking to each other at trillions of specialized communication points called synapses. In an in-depth study of neurons grown in laboratory petri dishes, National Institutes of Health researchers discovered how the chattiest of some synapses find the energy to support intense conversations thought to underlie learning and memory. Their results, published in Nature Metabolism, suggest that a series of chemical reactions control a feedback loop that senses the need for more energy and replenishes it by recruiting cellular powerplants, called mitochondria, to the synapses. The experiments were performed by researchers in a lab led by Zu-Hang Sheng, Ph.D., at the NIH’s National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS).

The team studied synapses that use the neurotransmitter glutamate to communicate. Communication happens when a packet of glutamate is released from presynaptic boutons which are tiny protrusions that stick

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Recent findings suggest the repeated evolution of similar traits in island lizards was not channelled by developmental responses to the environment, as commonly thought — ScienceDaily

Scientists have challenged a popular theory behind the evolution of similar traits in island lizards, in a study published recently in eLife.

The findings in Greater Antillean Anolis lizards provide insights on why creatures often evolve similar physical features independently when living in similar habitats. They suggest that the role of developmental plasticity in shaping adaptive evolution may be less important than commonly thought.

Developmental plasticity refers to how development responds to the environment, in particular the way that an organism’s genetic constitution (or genotype) interacts with its environment during development to produce a particular set of characteristics (or phenotype).

“Anolis lizards that live on all four of the Greater Antillean islands have independently and repeatedly evolved six different body types for maneuvering through their given habitat,” says lead author Nathalie Feiner, Researcher at the Department of Biology, Lund University, Sweden. “As a result, they make a great model

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Researchers suggest providing mental health services to those with the greatest need — ScienceDaily

Experiencing multiple stressors triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic — such as unemployment — and COVID-19-related media consumption are directly linked to rising acute stress and depressive symptoms across the U.S., according to a groundbreaking University of California, Irvine study.

The report appears in Science Advances, published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

“The pandemic is not hitting all communities equally,” said lead author E. Alison Holman, UCI professor of nursing. “People have lost wages, jobs and loved ones with record speed. Individuals living with chronic mental and physical illness are struggling; young people are struggling; poor communities are struggling. Mental health services need to be tailored to those most in need right now.”

In addition, the research highlights the connection between mental health and exposure to media coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic, suggesting the need to step away from the television, computer or smartphone to protect

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Alien planets in deep space could be made of diamonds, researchers suggest

They say diamonds are a girl’s best friend, but what about an entire planet made of diamonds?

Newly published research suggests that some exoplanets in deep space largely comprised of carbon could turn into diamonds.

The research, published in The Planetary Science Journal, suggests that these “carbon-rich” planets could have the right conditions, such as water, heat and pressure, to turn the carbon into diamonds. These planets could also form other minerals that are found on Earth, such as silicates and oxides.

llustration of a carbon-rich planet with diamond and silica as main minerals. Water can convert a carbide planet into a diamond-rich planet. In the interior, the main minerals would be diamond and silica (a layer with crystals in the illustration). The core (dark blue) might be iron-carbon alloy. Credit: Shim/ASU/Vecteezy

llustration of a carbon-rich planet with diamond and silica as main minerals. Water can convert a carbide planet into a diamond-rich planet. In the interior, the main minerals would be diamond and silica (a layer with crystals in the illustration). The core (dark blue) might be iron-carbon alloy. Credit: Shim/ASU/Vecteezy

DWARF PLANET CERES HAS AN ‘ANCIENT OCEAN’ WITH SALT WATER, RESEARCHERS CONFIRM

“These exoplanets are unlike anything in

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