Crusading for invertebrates: effective outreach in schools

Imagine going into schools with live insects and spiders: it becomes about controlling the excitement, dispelling fear and culturing curiosity. This is what Minibeast Mayhem does every day! Sally-Ann Spence is known in the Twitterverse as “Minibeast Mayhem”, an educational outreach program for schools in the UK. I have been incredibly impressed with her program, and based on what I read and see on Twitter, she is an extremely gifted and successful crusader for invertebrates. Whether it’s stick-insects or spiders,... Read more


Macedonia creates €8m fund for SME innovation

The Macedonian government has launched a Fund for Innovation and Technology Development, aimed at boosting R&D activity at small and medium-sized businesses. The fund is financed by a loan from the World Bank to the tune of €8 million over the next three years. It is expected to fund innovation projects in ICT, agriculture, tourism and renewable energy, preferably with a local collaboration agenda, says Jasmina Popovska, the fund's director. “The point is to create jobs through growth of SMEs... Read more


Predicting the effect of anomalous sea ice loss and increasing sea surface temperatures on global storm systems

Azara Mohammadi – To become a PhD candidate at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, Soumik Basu moved from his home in Kolkata, India to a region infamous for its “below zero” weather: Interior Alaska. Basu left warm weather and his family (not to mention his mother’s cooking) because “The climate is changing, so I wanted to study how these changes in the climate affect the storm activities over the Northern Hemisphere.” Specifically, Basu came to UAF to understand variability and... Read more


New Study Shows Surgical Checklists In Operating Rooms Are Less Effective Than Assumed

The patient has verified his or her identity, the surgical site, the type of procedure, and his or her consent. Check. The surgical site is marked on a patient if such marking is appropriate for the procedure. Check. The probe measuring blood oxygen content has been placed on the patient and is functioning. Check. All members of the surgical and anesthesia team are aware of whether the patient has a known allergy? Check. These were the first items on a... Read more


Q&A: Science adviser to the president of Macedonia

Macedonia, a country of just over 2 million people, held the first round of its presidential elections yesterday (13 April) with the next round scheduled for later this month. The small, landlocked nation in South-East Europe has some 1,000 full time scientists, mainly in the public sector, and invests less than 0.3% of its GDP in research and development. Its national research system is “centralised and underfunded” and private research sector is “still rather weak thus rendering research in the... Read more


EU link to Balkans’ science threatened

The long-term future of a steering platform on research that brought warring Balkan nations and the EU ­together through science is uncertain after the project that hosted it ends. EU officials are now scrambling for alternative avenues to keep the hard-won cooperation going in this troubled region. The project – WBC-Inco.Net – and the steering platform were lauded for their achievements at the project's final conference in Vienna, Austria in March. The platform was set up in 2006 as part of wide-ranging and systematic EU support... Read more


Birdbooker Report 316

SUMMARY: Books, books, beautiful books! This is a list of biology, ecology, environment, natural history and animal books that are (or will soon be) available to occupy your bookshelves and your thoughts. “Words in leather and wood”. Bookshelves in the “Long Room” at the old Trinity College Library in Dublin. Image: Nic McPhee from Morris, MN, USA. 2007. (Creative Commons.) Books to the ceiling, Books to the sky, My pile of books is a mile high. How I love them!... Read more


Measles Pop Quiz: Social Media Edition

Let’s try something new. I predicted that my story on a ‘Measles Outbreak Traced to a Fully Vaccinated Patient for First Time’ would generate a cloud of comments on Facebook (Science Magazine + ScienceNOW). Like a storm offshore, I saw it coming. So I posed extra questions to my sources that could cover the eventual deluge. So here is a true-or-false pop quiz on measles based on reader comments and answered by the extra reporting that couldn’t fit into a... Read more


Morsels For The Mind – 11/04/2014

Every day we provide you with Six Incredible Things Before Breakfast to nibble away at. Here you can fill your brain with the most intellectually stimulating “amuse bouches” from the past week – a veritable smorgasbord for the cranium. They’re all here for you to load up your plate – this week’s “Morsels for the mind”. Enjoy! If you do nothing else, make sure to check out the “Reads / views / listens of the week”. **** Feather, fur &... Read more


Your Inner Ant: How Popularity on the Web arises by Trail and Error

Every animal needs food and every animal likes food. Food is quite popular one could say. For foraging, some species like ants use the so-called trail-laying and trail-following behavior for finding the shortest path between a nest and a food source. The trail-laying and trail-following behavior consists of the following three basic principles: 1. Each time an ant moves, it lays a pheromone trail. 2. For finding its way, it senses its environment and a) follows existing trails, if there... Read more


A billion-year-old conversation – plants’ internal dialogue

“Let us make a special effort to stop communicating with each other, so we can have some conversation.” Samuel Langhorne Clemens (Mark Twain) (1835-1910) For hundreds of millions of years, plants have had an internal dialogue, and we are just beginning to learn the words. The dialogue occurs between two compartments within plant cells – the nucleus and the chloroplast. That dialogue has its genesis about one billion years ago. It’s a dialogue that continues today, shaping the productivity of... Read more


Peer-to-peer science communication within the ivory tower

Science is built upon a system of peer-review and collaboration, and Universities are meant to be institutions of higher learning and knowledge exchange, yet you just don’t see Profs wandering into a colleague’s office to chat broadly about science and exchange knowledge. Instead, we nod to each other in the hallways, and when we do chat, it’s often to discuss administration, complain about how busy we are, or or chat with our own research group about a specialized area of... Read more


Australian Megafauna A-Z: D is for Diprotodon

Posted by Travis Park in Blogozoic

This instalment in my A-Z of Australian megafauna series has been long overdue (the last one was written way back in October 2013) so, without further ado, we’ll get straight into talking about it! This time, it’s one of the most, if not the iconic Australian megafauna taxon, Diprotodon. Read on, for a brief introduction to the quintessential extinct Aussie. The name Diprotodon means “two front teeth” and refers to the enlarged, constantly growing first incisors of the animal. It... Read more


Journal Club: Telomere length: a new measure of chronic stress in wildlife?

SUMMARY: Two independent studies find a positive relationship between social environment and telomere length. The first study -- that nearly everyone has heard about -- is in children. The second study -- that few have heard about -- is in pet grey parrots. The second study raises the question: might telomere length be developed as a new way to measure chronic stress -- in animals? Telomere caps (white) on the ends of human chromosomes (grey). Image: U.S. Department of Energy... Read more


The ground changing under our feet – Thermokarsts

Laura Nielsen for Frontier Scientists – Jason Dobkowski stands on the shores of Wolverine Lake. His research site is located in the North Slope of Alaska, nestled near the remote foothills of the Brooks Range. "I’m here studying permafrost thaw slump which is depositing silt and material into the lake behind me. And that material, the silt and the minerals and the frozen carbon, affects the lake in a lot of different ways. It can change the chemistry and the... Read more