Ambitious plans to sequence every organism on earth, seeks funding

“When it comes to genome sequencing, visionaries like to throw around big numbers: There’s the UK Biobank, for example, which promises to decipher the genomes of 500,000 individuals, or Iceland’s effort to study the genomes of its entire human population. Yesterday, at a meeting here organized by the Smithsonian Initiative on Biodiversity Genomics and the Shenzhen, China–based sequencing powerhouse BGI, a small group of researchers upped the ante even more, announcing their intent to, eventually, sequence “all life on Earth.””

Interested? Read more over at Science. 

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A Race to Document Rare Plants Before These Cliffs Are Ground to Dust

Not figurative dust. Literal dust. Cambodia’s limestone karsts exist nowhere else and are home to a host of endemic species. These environments are being pulverized for cement and scientists are racing to document all the rare plants before they are gone.

Read about it over at the NYTimes!

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What Do Insects Do in Winter?

“Whether it’s special proteins that act like the antifreeze in your car, body fluids spiked with alcohol instead of water or gearing up for long-distance travel to warmer climes, it seems that these hardy bugs have developed their own answers to the biological problems winter poses.

You’ve likely heard of one the most common ways insects make it through this darkest and coldest season: time travel. “Either they escape in space, which means they migrate, or they escape in time, which means they become dormant,” says Scott Hayward, an invertebrate biologist at the University of Birmingham. “The vast majority actually becomes dormant.””

Want to know more about how or small uncharismatic friends survive in during the colder months? Read about it over at Smithsonian Magazine! 

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Caterpillar Lab!

In a time where biodiversity is actively under threat, I’d like to take a moment to applaud organizations that highlight and promote organisms. And somehow I just stumbled across such a resource.

The Caterpillar Lab! Started by a kickstarter in 2013, it’s mission statement:

The Caterpillar Lab fosters greater appreciation and care for the complexity and beauty of our local natural history through live caterpillar educational programs, research initiatives, and photography and film projects. We believe that an increased awareness of one’s local environment is the foundation on which healthy and responsible attitudes towards the broader natural systems of this world is built.

Check them out here, or simply enjoy the video below (One of many that can be found on their website).

 

The Endangered Species Act may be heading for the threatened list.

Well this is nuts. Not surprising… but nuts none the less.

“A Senate hearing to “modernize the Endangered Species Act” unfolded Wednesday just as supporters of the law had feared, with round after round of criticism from Republican lawmakers who said the federal effort to keep species from going extinct encroaches on states’ rights, is unfair to landowners and stymies efforts by mining companies to extract resources and create jobs.

The two-hour meeting of the Environment and Public Works Committee was led by Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), who said last month that his focus in a bid to change the act would be “eliminating a lot of the red tape and the bureaucratic burdens that have been impacting our ability to create jobs,” according to a report in Energy and Environment News.”

The article goes on to discuss how it will likely be dismantled. Call your representatives!

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Behold, the Gargantuan Stick Insect

What’s that? You prefer your biological organisms to be of the charismatic variety? You like cute cuddly bears, and seals?

Giant insects terrify you? Skip this post.

Everyone else, WELCOME TO THE WEIRD FAUNA OF AUSTRALIA!

Seeing the Gargantuan Stick Insect in the wild is… wild. So read all about this encounter at Science Friday!

And check this guy out: 000220524c.jpg