Saturday, June 30, 2012

Loss of rare species can harm ecosystems

Bracken and Brown University student Natalie Low conducted several experiments that analyzed the impact of removing seaweed and sessile animals, such as mussels and barnacles, from the rocky shores of Northeastern’s Marine Science Center in Nahant, Mass. The experiments were designed to mimic naturally occurring changes in biodiversity on rocky shores.
The findings were startling. “We have shown that the loss of these extremely rare species — which collectively represent less than 10 percent of the seaweed and animal biomass at the base of the food web — causes major declines in the abundance and diversity of animals, such as snails, crabs and other mobile animals,” Bracken said. Prior research on the extirpation of rare species from a particular ecosystem focused on how the loss of top predators — often referred to as “keystone” species — affects plants and animals at the bottom of the food chain. Bracken and Low, on the other hand, have shown that the loss of rare species from the base of the food chain, which they call “cornerstone” species, can also reshape marine systems. A pattern of decline emerged after only three weeks of experiments and persisted for the remainder of the five–week study. “Previous work on the effects of rare predator removals took months to years to show strong effects,” Bracken said. “We found strong effects of rare seaweed removals after only a few weeks.”

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Dino Snores for Grown-ups at the Natural History Museum at 9th June 2012

Dinosaur Meseum
Come along to our new sleepover event for a stylish night of music and science, art and cinema, and dinner in London's celebrated dinosaurs home.
Event info: 
First sleepover: 17 August 2012
Event starts at 19.30, ends 9.30 the following day
Cash bars open in Fossil Way and the Central Hall Cafe
£175 per person, Members price £160

Event Highlights:
  • 3-course dinner and breakfast in the Museum's Restaurant
  • sleeping in the Central Hall under our iconic Diplodocus frame, Dippy
  • Nature Quiz at dinner with wonderful prizes to win, including Museum Memberships and Crime Scene Live tickets
  • science show featuring gruesome forensics and the sex lives of insects
  • A hilarious comic set with award-winning comedian Tom Allen
  • Unusual midnight feast with an edible-insect tasting.
  • Free admission to special exhibitions, Scott's Last Expedition and Animal Inside Out
  • life-drawing class in the Darwin Centre hall
  • live tune in the Central Hall Cafe
Places are limited so you'll require to book early to secure your place. This event is not appropriate for hen and stag parties.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Modern Birds are actually Baby Dinosaurs

Modern birds hold the physical individuality of baby dinosaurs, according to a new Nature study that found birds are even more closely linked to dinosaur than before thought.

Depending on the non-avian dinosaur and bird compared, that might be tough to consider. When researchers go beyond the surface to the tissue and skull levels, however, the similarities become extra obvious.

"The evaluation of the many characteristics of birds –- things like feathers, flight, and wishbones -– has usually been a hard problem for biologists," Mark Norell, chair of the division of paleontology at the American Museum of Natural History and one of the paper's co-authors, added.

"By analyzing fossil proof from skeletons, eggs, and soft tissue of bird-like dinosaurs and primitive birds, we've learned that birds are living theropod dinosaurs, a group of carnivorous birds that include Velociraptor," Norell sustained.

"This new work advances our knowledge by providing an authoritative example of how developmental changes played a main role in the source and development of birds."